Unmasking the Entrepreneur

Unmasking the Entrepreneur

Campbell Jones and André Spicer

This book asks what lies behind the friendly face of the entrepreneur. It challenges the widespread idea that entrepreneurship is a necessary and good thing, subjecting ‘the entrepreneur’ to critical analysis. Unmasking the Entrepreneur demonstrates the socially embedded nature of entrepreneurship and considers the history, ethics and politics of entrepreneurship. Drawing on a range of ideas from critical social theory and philosophy, it investigates entrepreneurship in unusual places such as among illegal immigrants and revolutionary France. Ultimately, this book offers a unique and powerful critique of the very idea of the entrepreneur.

Chapter 7: Every Age Gets the Entrepreneur it Deserves

Campbell Jones and André Spicer

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, organisation studies


There is one thing we know about entrepreneurs to be sure – the entrepreneur is an ambiguous, uncertain, and paradoxical character who evades most attempts at capture. So far in this book, we have argued that such ambiguity is an important feature of entrepreneurship discourse. Indeed, it is this ambiguity that makes the entrepreneur such an alluring and omnipresent figure, another result being that the boundaries of what is and is not entrepreneurship are actually quite difficult to discern. In the previous chapter we looked at the enterprising behaviours of one of the most unlikely entrepreneurs one could imagine, the Marquis de Sade. We argued that a shocking figure like Sade reminds us that there are certain boundaries to who can be called an entrepreneur. But it is not just unlikely entrepreneurs such as Sade who are excluded from ‘being entrepreneurial’. There are many other figures that haunt the contemporary economy who appear to be very entrepreneurial, but are not likely to gain the title of being an entrepreneur. These are often shadowy figures who lurk in the grey or black economy. They include people working without declaring their income, illegal workers, gamblers, small-time thieves, street hustlers, pornographers, arms dealers, forgers, prostitutes, drug dealers, and organised criminals of various kinds. These characters engage in what is highly entrepreneurial behaviour, that is, they find and create markets, they take risks, they perceive opportunities, they undertake business ventures (see Williams, 2006; Volkov, 2002). Semilegal street traders in New York engaged in entrepreneurial behaviour...

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