Entrepreneurship across Generations
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Entrepreneurship across Generations

Narrative, Gender and Learning in Family Business

Eleanor Hamilton

Entrepreneurship Across Generations examines dimensions of identity, gender and learning to understand the complex fabric of family business. An interpretation of narratives from two generations in five families constitutes entrepreneurship as an inherently social, rather than individual, phenomenon.
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Chapter 4: Temporality and narrative identity

Narrative, Gender and Learning in Family Business

Eleanor Hamilton


There is a burgeoning interest in narratives in entrepreneurship research. This chapter builds on a significant and influential body of work emerging in the field (Larty and Hamilton, 2011). In this study narrative throws into relief aspects of family business across the generations, particularly in relation to the construction of narrative identities. It is inspired by Paul Ricoeur’s (1980, 1991a) philosophical understanding of temporality in relation to narrative and identity, whereby narrative mediates to configure (and reconfigure) our human experience of time and life into narrative identities. It adopts an ontological understanding of narrative which makes ‘identity and the self something that one becomes’ (Somers, 1994, p. 618). Narrative is reframed from a representational or methodological position to a fundamental way in which we can understand the social world. The chapter is structured in the following way. A brief introduction is given to the work of Paul Ricoeur and his philosophical understanding of the pre-interpretive capacity of life, constantly configured and reconfigured, through narrative. For Ricoeur (1991a) the concept of emplotment (muthos) explains how narrative mediates in providing meaning to the human experience of time. This is firstly explored by looking at ways in which the participants in the interviews draw on different ways of framing time and, in so doing, locate themselves in time. Building a philosophical understanding of the relationship between narrative and identity, Ricoeur (1991b) examines the concepts of idem (sameness) and ipse (selfhood). In distinguishing between these two facets of identity Ricoeur develops a conceptual framework to explicate the notion of narrative identity

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