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Understanding entrepreneurship in low-income communities: A substantivist approach

Nowak, Victoria (2016) Understanding entrepreneurship in low-income communities: A substantivist approach. In: 2nd EMES-Polanyi International Seminar ‘Societies in transition – Social and solidarity economy, the commons, public action and livelihood, 19 May 2016 - 20 May 2016, Paris, France.


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This research seeks to widen the economistic lens of mainstream research that defines entrepreneurship according to profit and growth and marginalizes much everyday and social entrepreneurship. This paper questions these assumptions by discussing business support in a low-income community in the UK. By introducing two cases, one based on mainstream heroic conceptions of entrepreneurship and another founded on alternative conceptions of entrepreneurship and economy that sees different types of enterprise potential in local people, it illustrates how success can be measured in terms of work-life balance, economic security, health, wellbeing and contribution to the local community, rather than by profits or growth. A Polanyian inspired substantivist approach to understanding entrepreneurship that pays attention to individual and community well being is introduced.

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