Accepted paper:

Contemporary practices of start-upping


Jonna Josties (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

My paper addresses how contemporary high-tech start-up practices as interventions into uncertainty trigger overlapping and unintended effects and shape possible, maybe unwanted futures. The concept of the “entrepreneurial ecosystem” which is used and applied in the startup field will be put into question.

Paper long abstract:

What do high-tech startup practices have to do with the spread of 'start-up churches'? What kind of unexpected, perhaps un-wanted, futures are being shaped when so-called "entrepreneurial ecosystems" get promoted in urban environments? In my proposed talk, I intend to open up a window into these questions, drawing on my ethnographic, empirical investigation on start-up practices in Berlin and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Berlin case suggests that there is a connection between the emergence of a blossoming startup environment and the proliferation of new urban religious initiatives, which even use the same urban hotspots high-tech start-ups would use to set up their projects. Conducting fieldwork in the San Francisco Bay area has taken my observations of Berlin to the next level pointing to similar analogies from a transatlantic perspective of global connection. I will show that neither the notion of the "entrepreneurial ecosystem", nor the older ways of distinguishing between the domains of the economic and religious are effective in order to grasp the complexities, dynamics and unstable social terrains emerging in the context of contemporary 'start-up-ism'. Instead, I will suggest that 'assemblage thinking' (Ong/Collier 2005) enables to explore how high-tech start-up practices as interventions into uncertainty trigger overlapping and unanticipated effects both globally and in situated localities like Berlin.

panel P034
Ecosystem as concept, legacy, and (sustainable) futures