Rethinking entrepreneurship through distribution: distributive relations and the reproduction of racialized inequality among South African entrepreneurs
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Entrepreneurship is commonly understood as the identification, evaluation, and execution of a market-based opportunity to produce profits. But anthropological scholarship shows that capitalism, and market relations more broadly, cannot function without acts of distribution. Focusing on two different groups of entrepreneurs across the racialized socioeconomic divides of Cape Town, South Africa – White South African entrepreneurs in the city's central business district and Black South African entrepreneurs in the city's largest township of Khayelitsha – this article compares the distributive resources that entrepreneurs use to launch and maintain their businesses. I show that the productive capacity of all entrepreneurs depends upon the distributive resources that are available to them, gained primarily from access to intergenerational wealth or from lateral modes of reciprocity and social support. But more importantly, I demonstrate how these distributive resources and activities reproduce the structural economic inequalities of racial capitalism, which are rooted in South Africa's colonial and apartheid history. I conclude by discussing the implications that this has for the ways that anthropologists discuss the potential of distributive strategies among marginalized populations, as well as the way that scholars and policy-makers understand the economic potential of entrepreneurial practice.
National Science Foundation
Melissa Beresford. "Rethinking entrepreneurship through distribution: distributive relations and the reproduction of racialized inequality among South African entrepreneurs" Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2021): 108-127. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.13432