How Diverse is Entrepreneurship? Observations on the social heterogeneity of self-employment in Germany
The discussion on entrepreneurship often treats entrepreneurs as agents of ideas of economic change and growth. Entrepreneurs are considered to serve as potential multipliers delivering individual and social wealth and prosperity. In that context entrepreneurship has been treated as a rather homogenous category, internal differences were not in the focus of academic talk. In public policy discourse entrepreneurship and the labour market category of self-employment are often used interchangeably. Images and interpretation of self-employment are mostly based on comparison of self-employment with other categories of wage or salary dependent labour market groups. This way self-employed people prove to become an averaged one-type figure. The proposed paper wants to highlight the other side of economic and social reality: the heterogeneity of self-employment. Referring to empirical data for the case of Germany the argumentation intends to illuminate different levels of social and economic integration of self-employed people. Working parameters and firm sizes, economic sectors of activity, income patterns, working hours and biographies have diversified and became increasingly heterogeneous so that further discussion is ultimately provoked: Which entrepreneurship are we talking about when talking entrepreneurship? Where are links between different fractions of the category of self-employment compared to each other and to other socio-economic groups? The contribution must be regarded as a theoretical and empirical task to connect entrepreneurship with debate on innovation, culture and finance.
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