Ethnic entrepreneurship and the question of agency: the role of different forms of capital, and the relevance of social class
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
The literature on ethnic entrepreneurship has focused on structural factors, group characteristics or a combination of both when explaining the entry and/or success of different ethnic groups in/to self-employment. While the active involvement of individuals has often been noted, agency has been under-theorised, and frequently conflated with what are considered as 'cultural' factors. This article explores the question of agency in ethnic entrepreneurship by looking at how entrepreneurs access
... d mobilise different kinds of resources. Using a forms-of-capital approach, the article draws on qualitative data from the UK and Spain, and looks at how entrepreneurs mobilise cultural, social and economic resources in structural contexts that include constraining as well as enabling features. Our findings show that the entrepreneurs are active agents who play an important role in shaping ethnic businesses. However, their agency varies significantly depending on the extent to which entrepreneurs have access to different kinds of resources, which is closely linked to their socioeconomic position. The article contributes to the literature through its direct engagement with the question of agency in ethnic entrepreneurship, and by highlighting the relevance of social class in entrepreneurial processes.