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Introduction to the Special Issue, Everyday Self-Employment

Cohen, R. L. ORCID: 0000-0003-4560-1590, Hardy, K. & Valdez, Z. (2019). Introduction to the Special Issue, Everyday Self-Employment. American Behavioral Scientist, 63(2), pp. 119-128. doi: 10.1177/0002764218794786


A ‘partial renaissance’ of self-employment in labor markets of the global North has attracted policy concern across national, supranational and global scales, yet sociological thought has been somewhat slower to respond to this phenomenon. In response, this special issue focuses on everyday self-employment amongst workers drawn from countries across the world. The collection of articles in this volume originated, in part, from a recent symposium that took place at City, University of London, which highlighted the contribution of sociology and cognate disciplines to the study of self-employment. The volume considers the social and structural forces that condition this economic activity as an ideology and practice, as well as the constraints and opportunities for its maintenance and reproduction. It also examines the everyday lives of self-employed workers and in particular the ways in which self-employment is experienced across a range of geographical, occupational, and industrial contexts, and with regard to social categories including race, class, nationality and gender. As neo-liberal subjects we are increasingly required to inhabit an entrepreneurial self. As such, a sociological understanding of the global patterns and everyday experiences of self-employment – or entrepreneurialism as practice – is essential for a critical understanding of the economy and society and the cultural legitimations associated with this oft-celebrated and aspirational economic activity. The contributors in this volume often challenge the mainstream view of self-employment and entrepreneurship to reveal the complexity and scope of activity; their perspectives provide new insights for researchers and policymakers regarding the function of self-employment in a changing economy and society. This introduction initiates a discussion of the central debates in the study of self-employment, introduces a working conceptualization of self-employment, and presents a brief synopsis of the articles in this volume.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Cohen, R. L., Hardy, K. & Valdez, Z. (2018). Introduction to the Special Issue, Everyday Self-Employment. American Behavioral Scientist Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.
Publisher Keywords: self-employment, entrepreneurship, economic sociology, work and occupations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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