The Paradox of Entrepreneurship as a Policy Tool for Economic Inclusion in Neoliberal Policy Environments

Authored by: Colleen Casey

The Routledge Handbook of Poverty in the United States

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415673440
eBook ISBN: 9781315755519
Adobe ISBN: 9781317627401

10.4324/9781315755519.ch37

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Abstract

The viability of entrepreneurship as a policy tool for economic inclusion among the poor is a highly contentious subject. Entrepreneurship itself has emerged as a neoliberal policy tool for economic inclusion; however, it is further complicated when situated in a broader neoliberal policy environment whereby shifts have occurred across major social and economic institutions, transcending political party lines and creating new inequalities and distances between those with and those historically without. To be an effective strategy, entrepreneurship rests heavily upon the assumption that, through social capital, entrepreneurs can overcome these structural barriers. In this chapter, I argue that these reforms have created a paradoxical relationship between entrepreneurship and neoliberal policy environments for economic inclusion. Specifically, I draw upon both qualitative and quantitative secondary data sources to develop three primary lines of thought:

Socioeconomic or structural barriers do not bind the concept of entrepreneurship; however, when used as a policy tool in the neoliberal agenda, socioeconomic and structural barriers become paramount.

Entrepreneurship as a policy tool for economic inclusion operates in a broader neoliberal policy environment that privileges wealth and advantage, and deemphasizes access for the disadvantaged to the major social and economic institutions that have been historically associated with social capital formation.

This combined effect creates a paradox that has the potential to foster greater inequality among those most likely to be poor, by not only fostering greater individual inequalities but also by eroding the collective structures necessary to bridge the gaps.

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