"Entrepreneurialism" ideology and declining politics: the cases of the Vale do Ave (Portugal) and Veneto (Italy)
Carmen Leidereiter (Universitat de Barcelona)
Giacomo Loperfido (Universitat de Barcelona)
Paper short abstract:
This paper ethnographically explores the space of “the political” as a strategy of resistance/redemption and the emergent economic coping strategies attendant to declining entrepreneurialism.
Paper long abstract:
This paper focuses on two regions of Southern Europe: the Vale do Ave, Portugal, and Veneto, Italy. In these sites, current sociality appears as the historical product of both a short but intense integration into global markets, and a recent, rapid re-peripheralization, compounded by troika-mandated austerity. We examine the peculiar articulation between historically embedded forms of state intervention, entrepreneurialism, and the surprising absence of political reactions to the crisis. We question how, by harnessing historically instituted notions of self-reliability, an ideology of "entrepreneurialism" might produce both political disengagement and economic competition simultaneously. Within this frame, identity-making appears to be increasingly encompassed by the symbolic repertoires of individual production, consumption and economic competition, while the domain of "the public" is relegated to a marginal role. Focusing on institutionally promoted entrepreneurialism projects allows for investigating 1) the processes of state withdrawal from social reproduction responsibilities, and 2), what entrepreneurialism does in terms of effectively dismantling the possibility for class-based solidarity and collective bargaining. As the state ceases to be the entity to which claims are addressed, individual economic action becomes invested with the moral value of hard, self-reliable work. But what happens when persistent decline as currently witnessed renders such aspirations factually unachievable? An institutionally sustained moral infrastructure seems to underpin entrepreneurialism's aspirational momentum, despite its apparent decreasing ability to provide the upward mobility conventionally expected of it. This paper ethnographically explores the space of "the political" as a strategy of resistance/redemption and the emergent economic coping strategies attendant to declining entrepreneurialism.