The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in
the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end,
do you think that you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing
and for a love relationship is true also for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as
we don’t know what will be the end.
—FOUCAULT, THE BIRTH OF BIOPOLITICS, 9
Entrepreneurial Selves is an ethnography of economy, labor, and affect
in a time and place of neoliberalism. This is a story about what it
means to be respectable and middle class, and the manner in which
these concepts work in tandem, in ways that are simultaneously gen-
dered and culturally particular. Entrepreneurialism, I will argue, is
becoming not simply a mechanism of self- employment—a vehicle
for income generation, an economic matter of business, that is, en-
trepreneurship in a narrow sense—but a subtler, generalized way
of being and way of feeling in the world. This entrepreneurialism
connects market practices with self- making and is predicated upon
porous boundaries of public and private life. The self as an entre-
preneurial “project” under constant renovation is a key signpost of
neoliberalism and its perpetual quest for flexibility in the changing
global marketplace (Bourdieu 1998; Rose 1992; Illouz 2007, 2008;
Walkerdine 2003). Foucault described four types of technologies by
which human beings make sense of themselves, each of which is
integral to the entrepreneurial pursuit:
Entrepreneurial Selves
an introduction
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