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Exploring the false promise of entrepreneurship through a postfeminist critique of the enterprise policy discourse in Sweden and the UK

Ahl, Helene; Marlow, Susan

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Authors

Helene Ahl

SUSAN MARLOW SUSAN.MARLOW1@NOTTINGHAM.AC.UK
Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation



Abstract

Exploring the false promise of entrepreneurship through a postfeminist critique of the enterprise policy discourse in Sweden and the UK. Abstract Contemporary theories of neoliberalism and entrepreneurship are entwined; both hinge upon the use of agency within free markets to realise individual potential, enhance status and attain material rewards. Postfeminism, as a discrete but related discourse, suggests this context is conducive to encouraging women to draw upon their agency, skills and personal profile to enhance achievements and returns. We draw from these related, but discrete discourses, when critically analysing how postfeminist assumptions shape Swedish and UK government policies aimed at expanding women's entrepreneurship. Despite differing historical antecedents regarding State engagement with equality and welfare regimes, we illustrate how postfeminist assumptions have infiltrated policy initiatives in both cases. This infiltration has, we suggest, suppressed criticisms that in a context of persistent structural discrimination, lack of welfare benefits and contrived aspirational role models, entrepreneurship constitutes a poor career choice for many women. Consequently, we challenge the value of contemporary policy initiatives encouraging more women to enter entrepreneurship.

Citation

Ahl, H., & Marlow, S. (2021). Exploring the false promise of entrepreneurship through a postfeminist critique of the enterprise policy discourse in Sweden and the UK. Human Relations, 74(1), 41-68 . https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726719848480

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 3, 2019
Online Publication Date May 19, 2019
Publication Date Jan 1, 2021
Deposit Date Apr 29, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 1, 2019
Journal Human Relations
Print ISSN 0018-7267
Electronic ISSN 1741-282X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 74
Issue 1
Pages 41-68
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726719848480
Keywords gender; entrepreneurship; policy; postfeminism; equality
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1849133
Publisher URL https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0018726719848480

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