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Vivien A. Schmidt

Discursive institutionalism is an umbrella concept for approaches that concern themselves with the substantive content of ideas and the interactive processes of discourse in institutional context. This chapter shows the relevance of discursive institutionalism to policy studies in a critical vein by considering both the wide range of ideas in discourse and the ways in which ‘sentient’ (thinking and speaking) agents articulate such ideas as policy actors in a ‘coordinative discourse’ of policy construction and as political actors in a ‘communicative discourse’ of political legitimation. The chapter also elaborates on the dual nature of the institutional context by considering not just the external formalized institutions that constrain action but also the structures and constructs of meaning. These help explain not only how agents are able to create and maintain institutions via their ‘background ideational abilities’ but also how they change or maintain institutions via their ‘foreground discursive abilities’ of communication. But although meaning is socially constructed, the chapter builds on the work of Wittgenstein to show that this does not lead to radical relativism because knowledge comes with different kinds of certainty. Finally, the chapter also theorizes about the nature of the power of ideas, in particular through discourse.

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Julia Backhaus, Harald Wieser and René Kemp

This chapter illustrates that broadening the analysis of practices to characteristics on the part of practice-carriers, as well as to systemic factors, bears improved understanding of reasons for practice variability and opens up practice research to more quantitative methodological approaches. Reminiscent of Reckwitz’s (2002) frequently cited definition of a practice as ‘a routinised type of behaviour which consists of several elements, interconnected to one other’ (p. 249), we attempt to unpack these elements, yet refrain from focusing solely on the constituents of practices. The conceptual framework we develop to cope with practice variations is based on the notion of ‘webs of entangled elements’ across production–consumption systems, practices, and their carriers. Our findings are based on empirical data derived from several in-depth interviews and a survey of more than 1200 respondents (as carriers of practices) in three European countries (Austria, Hungary, and the Netherlands as different production–consumption systems). Results show how some elements of the practice of food purchasing intersect with other practices, most notably with working. Further, practice performances shift with changing life circumstances and time constraints, after a significant experience or simply due to information gleaned through the media. These shifts in practice performances, which otherwise are rather stable for longer periods of time, can be viewed as punctuated equilibria, with one and the same person being able to perform sets of practices belonging to different equilibria, depending on which set of materials, meanings, and competences she is drawing.

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Carol Ekinsmyth

Mothers who run small, home-based businesses around their child care routines are the empirical subjects of this chapter. These businesses are located within the wider geographic sphere of the residential neighbourhood, which in comparison to wider scales is under-researched in studies of entrepreneurship. Indeed these largely domestic spaces and the micro-businesses that they often contain are commonly considered insignificant in economic terms. This chapter argues that ignoring such activities risks blindness to a key factor in the well-being and livelihoods of individuals and families. It examines the role of neighbourhood, especially neighbourhood social capital, in home-based businesses. The social networks and social capital that ensue, as a variable characteristic of neighbourhoods, and a potentially key aspect of home-based business, are the focus of this chapter. Concentrating on entrepreneurs with limited daily mobilities (mothers of young children), this chapter questions what role neighbourhoods might play in providing local social capital that can enrich business. Empirical research presented in this chapter shows that, in daily life, home-based mothers take part in neighbourhood ‘space–time ballets’, negotiating space, schedule and duties. Neighbourhoods contain moving constellations of individuals whose daily activities result in repetitive temporary coalitions of individuals in specific places (e.g. primary schools, community halls, parks, playgrounds).

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Samuel Mwaura and Sara Carter

The entrepreneur’s household context has been largely neglected in entrepreneurship research. Most studies focus on the individual entrepreneur, the venture or the broader socioeconomic environment in which the firm is located. However, for individual entrepreneurs, their paramount concern is likely to be the well-being of their household. For enterprises that are inherently associated with an individual entrepreneur, there are profound interdependencies between the business and the household. Beyond the deployment of household resources in the business, business decisions and routines will be predicated upon the needs and deeds of the household. The demarcation of assets, incomes and expenses between the household and the business is often blurred, and the business lifecycle will probably parallel the household lifecycle. This chapter develops a theoretical framework that allows a richer conceptual understanding and empirical analysis of such interdependencies and the ways in which they circularly impact on the choices, actions and well-being outcomes of enterprises and the respective households. The framework not only contributes to the growing recognition of context within the contemporary entrepreneurship discourse, but also provides a conceptual launch pad for new research and policy discussions into the well-being impacts of entrepreneurship on individuals and households.

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Entrepreneurship in Cities

Neighbourhoods, Households and Homes

Edited by Colin Mason, Darja Reuschke, Stephen Syrett and Maarten van Ham

Entrepreneurship in Cities focuses on the neglected role of the home and the residential neighbourhood context for entrepreneurship and businesses within cities. The overall objective of the book is to develop a new interdisciplinary perspective that links entrepreneurship research with neighbourhood and urban studies. A key contribution is to show that entrepreneurship in cities is more than agglomeration economies and high-tech clusters. This is the first book to connect entrepreneurship with neighbourhoods and homes, recognising that business activity in the city is not confined to central business districts, high streets and industrial estates but is also found in residential neighbourhoods. It highlights the importance of home-based businesses for the economy of cities. These often overlooked types of businesses and workers significantly contribute to the ‘buzz’ that makes cities favourable places to live and work.
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Emily Huddart Kennedy and Tyler Bateman

A fairly robust consensus among scholars and practitioners pursuing sustainability holds that social change will depend upon collective – not individual – actions. Social practice theories offer a promising lens through which to understand the interstitial space between the individual and the collective. To date, social practice theories in sustainability studies have been applied to understand the collective nature – and consequences for material consumption – of everyday routines. What these studies do not yet elucidate is the interstitial space between those activities that take place within the home, and the activities and conversations taking place in the public sphere. Unpacking the link between private and public practices is an overlooked and vital component of the study of sustainable consumption – and the focus of this chapter. Using a qualitative comparative case study of leaders on local food movements in three Canadian cities, we present the concept of ‘environmental civic practices’ to explain how social mobilization is fomented in daily life. Environmental civic practices link private and public spheres through discourse that draws attention to the importance of sustainable consumption and by infusing sustainable consumption practices (e.g., shorter showers, better light bulbs) with a sense of efficacy for cultivating eco-social change. Our data reveal two key observations about environmental civic practices in local food movements. First, these practices are used primarily to open up opportunities for ethical consumption, thus bringing a collective dimension to bear on individual consumption decisions. Secondly and relatedly, this observation underscores the way that contemporary responses to ecological issues are embedded in power structures, understandings of what constitutes good etiquette, and a belief that good citizenship is tightly coupled with responsible consumption choices. Theories of social practice have the potential to explore the liminal space that synthesizes private and public spheres, and this space offers the potential to cultivate substantial pro-environmental change.

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Heike Hanhörster, Sabine Weck and Ivonne Fischer-Krapohl

Research on migrants’ location choice generally focuses on either the residential location choice or the business location choice of migrant entrepreneurs, while little attention has been paid to the interrelationship between the two. This chapter examines this interrelationship, using second-generation Turkish entrepreneurs as an example. Empirical evidence is based on qualitative interviews with entrepreneurs, including home-based entrepreneurs in urban neighbourhoods in Germany’s Ruhr region. Special attention is paid to the location choice of those migrant entrepreneurs who have set up their businesses or remained in neighbourhoods with high migrant concentrations, as opposed to those in predominantly German neighbourhoods. The empirical analysis is structured by the evolving themes of market access, social embeddedness and family embeddedness. The findings point to some well-known aspects, as acknowledged in the relevant literature explaining business location choice in neighbourhoods with high migrant concentrations, such as proximity to customers, market potential or the availability of cheap business premises. The findings also confirm the relevance of local networks and social embeddedness in explaining residential and business location choice. The relevance of the family context and the convenience of a firm’s proximity to the entrepreneur’s home also play a role. However, these factors cannot wholly explain decisions on where entrepreneurs choose to live and work. The findings show that the lack of access to certain segments of the housing market and commercial premises market as a result of discrimination or social distance influences decision making.

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Kam Wing Chan

This paper presents a retrospective analysis of China’s hukou (household registration) system in the last five decades since its promulgation, reviewing the history of that system from a broad socio-political perspective. More specifically, the paper focuses on revealing trends in the development of the system over time and identifying many of its important ramifications for modern Chinese society, as well as on the impact of hukou on the country’s industrialization, urbanization, rural–urban migration, and social and spatial stratification. The author argues that the hukou system now presents a major obstacle to China’s quest to become a modern, First World nation and global leader.

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Naomi T. Krogman, Maurie J. Cohen and Emily Huddart Kennedy

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Eva Lövbrand and Johannes Stripple

This chapter explores what kinds of critical policy studies may transpire from Michel Foucault’s nominalist engagement with traditional political concepts such as power, government and the state. We argue that Foucault’s work paves the way for a decentred form of policy analysis that asks how we govern and are governed in micro-settings including at the level of the individual subject. The focus on the ‘how of governing’ stems from a rejection of any a priori understanding of the distribution of power or location of government, and arises instead from an interest in, and awareness of, the historically situated practices, rationalities and identities by which governing operates. Viewed in this manner, Foucault-inspired policy studies neither offer us a substantive theory about the forces that shape public policy, nor does it tell us what constitutes public policy (e.g. actors, interests, structures). The role of the analyst is instead to critically interrogate how these political spaces come about, how power operates through them, and, ultimately, how they could be different.