Article

Making sense of self-employment in late career: understanding the identity work of olderpreneurs

Citation

Mallett O & Wapshott R (2015) Making sense of self-employment in late career: understanding the identity work of olderpreneurs. Work, Employment and Society, 29 (2), pp. 250-266. https://doi.org/10.1177/0950017014546666

Abstract
The enterprise culture is a pervasive socio-historical discourse. This article adopts a narrative identity work approach to explore how individuals may exert agency to make sense of and negotiate with the structuring features of such discourses. Older entrepreneurs are an interesting case through which to explore these processes because ageing is predominantly portrayed as a form of decline to be resisted or hidden and as inherently anti-enterprise. Qualitative, in-depth, semi-structured interviews with two UK-based older entrepreneurs reveal how they engaged problematically with discourses around enterprise culture and ageing in constructing their identities. Sedimentation and innovation are proposed as valuable concepts for understanding how particular discourses become embedded in the understanding and identity work of individuals and how they seek to exert agency. The findings demonstrate the difficulties in innovative identity work for older entrepreneurs and this is discussed in terms of narrative resource poverty.

Keywords
discourse; enterprise culture; entrepreneur; identity; late career; narrative

Journal
Work, Employment and Society: Volume 29, Issue 2

StatusPublished
FundersUniversity of Durham
Publication date01/04/2015
Publication date online13/01/2015
Date accepted by journal03/07/2014
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/27406
PublisherSAGE Publications
ISSN0950-0170
eISSN1469-8722