[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2013.
AbstractInstitution: University of ManchesterCandidate: FĂˇtima Maria de Jesus da AssunĂ§ĂŁoDegree
title: PhD Thesis title: On becoming self-employed: gender, class and entrepreneurship
in PortugalDate: 2012Keywords: Self-employment, entrepreneurship, gender, class, Portugal,
Southern EuropeThe main purpose of this study was to analyze the ways in which women
and men, who set up a business in the service industries, perceive their pathways
into self-employment, and the interaction between their business and family life.
This thesis addressed two problems identified in current literature. Firstly, the
gendered tradition and the reductionist approach of the push-pull theory, which does
not offer an adequate understanding of paths into self-employment where both push
and pull forces are involved. Secondly, the low visibility of the interactions between
business and family life, and also the tendency for some research to portray partnerships
between spouses in a harmonious light. Given the dominance of phenomenon-driven research,
this study was aimed at adding to the theoretical consolidation of the study of gender
and entrepreneurship. In theoretical terms, this research relied mainly on a synthesis
between feminist theorizing, Bourdieuâ€™s theory of practice and insights from studies
that focus on biographical experiences leading to self-employment. This study adopted
a qualitative research strategy, and used qualitative interviews as a research method.
A theoretical sample was constructed, based on two criteria: gender and the industry
in which the self-employed person operated. The sample focused on the Lisbon Region,
and targeted self-employed people who set up a business between 2005 and 2008. A total
of forty-eight interviews were conducted, involving twenty-three women and twenty-five
men. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed in their original language: Portuguese.
Only those quotations which have been used in the thesis were translated into English.
The interpretation of interviews was based on a thematic analysis. Different pathways
into self-employment were found. These were grouped under two main perspectives: seeing
self-employment as a primary way of working; or as an alternative plan. The lived
experiences of the interviewees also gave strength in exploring the various situations
that can trigger a leap into entrepreneurship. These were conceptualized as trigger
experiences. Two main sorts of trigger experiences were identified: crises (disruptive
or corrosive) and encounters. These were deeply embedded in the intervieweesâ€™ educational,
occupational and family experiences, going back to their social background, and the
ways in which these experiences interact with gender relations.Two main contexts of
interaction between family and the business were studied: â€ścopreneurshipsâ€ť and â€śnon-copreneurshipsâ€ť.
Ambivalent feelings towards the former were illustrated through the cooperation and
tensions involving spouses, as well as by the strategies that they devised in order
to cope with these tensions. In â€śnon-copreneurshipsâ€ť, the multiple contributions of
spouses to intervieweesâ€™ activities as self-employed people revealed the connections
between the family and business in these types of situation. Gender relations, social
background in self-employment, and spousesâ€™ positions in the business were decisive
for placing intervieweesâ€™ lived experiences into context in this respect.