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Accepted Contribution:

We do, we don’t dream: Reflections on power and knowledge co-production on entrepreneurship in the informal economy.  
Vrinda Chopra (Ashoka University)

Contribution short abstract:

The piece draws on vignettes of dialogical work on entrepreneurship in the informal economy and its relationalities with knowledge co-production. These relationalities help to recognise the politics of resistance, refusals and reflexivity and their implications for social change.

Contribution long abstract:

I asked Sita Devi, a women entrepreneur in a small peri-urban town in Uttar Pradesh, about her aspirations. She responded, saying that dreams and aspirations are not for us. I don’t dream. I do the work.

Sita Devi is part of a network of women entrepreneurs receiving support from a non-profit programme on social innovation in India. Her ideas on entrepreneurship are distanced from the programmatic language, emphasising universalised entrepreneurship concepts. As a researcher, I encountered similar distances across India and South Africa, with narratives highlighting ambivalence. In this piece, I will illuminate such distances, including my own from the field, through vignettes of dialogical work of knowledge co-production, focussing on the hierarchies between researchers, practitioners, and communities. I draw from my work on micro and social entrepreneurship to show the power dynamics in dialogue and how this challenges our capacities for knowledge co-production. Further, I aim to open spaces to recognise how power in knowledge production is challenged and subverted in the field. The relationalities between power, dialogue and knowledge production allow us to recognise the politics of resistance, refusals and reflexivity based on what is being said, what is not being said, and why. Put simply, Sita Devi, in the lines above, was not conveying her deprivation or lack. She was conveying something profound and mundane – that, for her, entrepreneurship means her work and her life.

Workshop PE02
Community knowledge in academic research: in pursuit of epistemic justice
  Session 3 Thursday 27 June, 2024, -