Accepted paper:

Developing the good life: social entrepreneurship in #SthlmTech

Authors:

Angela VandenBroek (Binghamton University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on a year of fieldwork within Stockholm's startup ecosystem, this paper will explore the tensions between the aspirations of social entrepreneurs to build better futures and the neoliberal underpinnings of the communities and infrastructures they move within as members and co-creators.

Paper long abstract:

The good life drives the work of social entrepreneurs as they strive to take advantage of the resources available to startup companies, including plentiful funding and well-established support infrastructures in startup ecosystems, to fashion futures free from the social and environmental problems of the present in the hopes of creating a collective good life for all. In this work, they also seek the good life for themselves by embracing their talents in technology and business as tools for their aspirations to do good. Among academics, social entrepreneurship is often dismissed as digital utopianism (Turner 2010), technological fetishism (Hand and Sandywell 2002), or technological solutionism (Morozov 2013), as these literatures rightly point out the contradictions of and the damage left in the wake of social entrepreneurship's assumptions (e.g. the Internet's inherent democratic qualities) and practices (e.g. surveillance and algorithmic mediation). However, these critiques obscure the creative and subversive work of social entrepreneurs as they negotiate the contradictions between their aspirations and the neoliberal underpinnings of the communities and infrastructures they move and operate within as members and co-creators. This paper will examine the aspirations, obligations, and moralities of social entrepreneurs and the productive tensions, resistances, and adaptations that arise from their collisions. This paper will draw on a year of fieldwork within Stockholm's startup ecosystem, which is widely recognized as a leader in social entrepreneurship for maintaining its social and environmental aspirations while simultaneously producing the highest number of billion-dollar (USD) startups per capita outside of Silicon Valley.

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panel P115
Virtuous (im)mobilities: the good life and its discrepancies