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Biography & Abstract
Isabell Stamm

Isabell is a sociologist and leader of a research group on Business, Ownership, and Family Wealth at the Max Planck Institute in Cologne. Her research focuses on the particularities of entrepreneurial families, collective engagement in entrepreneurship, and trajectories and variations of entrepreneurial groups.

Rethinking entrepreneurship from a class perspective

This talk takes its starting point in classic class-theories that look at the entrepreneur as capital-owner who is distinct from the employee as non-owner. Such entrepreneurs have been described as forming a capitalist class. However, the conditions under which entrepreneurs perform their entrepreneurial activities are highly unequal. This inequality is even deepened by recent trends towards financialization and digitalization. While some entrepreneurs have become platform depend and work under highly precarious conditions, others have turned their business portfolios into wealth architectures worth billions. In order to make sense of these developments, I propose a class-scheme that differentiates four class-positions of entrepreneurs according to their way of capital-ownership. This class-scheme accounts for the various structural conditions under which entrepreneurial activity occurs. I also allows to identify how “entrepreneurialism” as a cultural narrative serves on the one hand as touch point to all four identified class-positions, but on the other hand serves to cover-up their structural differences. 

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