Starting to entrepreneur : processes of becoming self-employed
This thesis is based upon research conducted in the North East of England during the years
1996 to 1998. It is about what it has been like for some "entrepreneurial" actors to become
self-employed. The interest Originated in the author's own experience of self-employment.
Her memories contrast with what it was like to be a student of sociology, giving rise to
questions which drove her back into the field of self-employment, this time as a - sometimes
- participant observer.
The thesis begins with an overview of the sociological and business schools' literature about
small to medium sized enterprises and entrepreneurs. This provides the reader with the
context in which self-employment tends to be understood, and the context in which self-employed
actors produce their self-employment. In the data chapters, the self-employed
actors are introduced in terms of their context, as entered into and explored by the author.
Biography is important in these chapters, as our understanding of the processes of becoming
and doing self-employment are enlarged.
The author's way of understanding the processes involved in developing a self-employed self
and doing self-employment is to treat the project as located in a liminal and
underconstructed part of a socially constructed world. Using frame analysis, the author
asserts that self-employment requires greater constructive efforts on the part of the actor,
and a greater sensitivity - a heightened consciousness - throughout the business
development stage. There is not always a readily apprehensible work context available to
the self-employed actor, or pre-determined role for them to adopt or emulate. Furthermore in
the struggle to set up ways of being and doing self-employment, the actor is often not at
liberty to drop all other roles and obligations. In sum, there is little about entrepreneuring that
may be taken for granted.