Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research
Edited by David Smallbone, Hans Landström and Dylan Jones-Evans
Chapter 9: The Entrepreneur in ‘Risk Society’: The Personal Consequences of Business Failure
Colin Mason, Sara Carter and Stephen Tagg INTRODUCTION Ulrich Beck is one of a number of theorists to have argued that advanced societies are experiencing a structural break with the past that is producing a new kind of capitalism, a new kind of labour, a new kind of social order and a new kind of society (Beck, 2003). However, Beck’s distinctive perspective is to argue that, as a consequence of these discontinuities, risk has become a pervasive and integral part of the modern condition, permeating through social life. His risk society perspective has been applied in a variety of contexts but most notably in terms of employment. Indeed, Beck (2000) ‘singles out labour market change as a decisive factor in the development of uncertain and insecure forms of lived experience’ (Mythen, 2005, p. 130). Work has become de-standardized. Firms have sought to become more flexible in how they use their employees so as to more closely match their labour needs with demand cycles and more generally to reduce their costs. This has involved a shift from a system of full-time employment to non-standard labour, including greater use of part-time, temporary and contract labour, greater utilization of sub-contracting to independent businesses and the growth of project work involving freelance labour (Ekinsmyth, 2002). Jobs are based on less secure, individualized employment contracts and organizations have become more fragmented. This has provided flexibility for employers but created a ‘risk fraught system of employment’ (Reimer, 1998) for the employee. Workers face new sets of...
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