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

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Oliver Mallett



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


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 (Ainsworth and Hardy, 2008). Qualitative, in-depth, semistructured 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. Our findings demonstrate the difficulties in innovative identity work for older entrepreneurs and this is discussed in terms of narrative resource poverty.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mallett O, Wapshott R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Work, Employment and Society

Year: 2015

Volume: 29

Issue: 2

Pages: 250-266

Print publication date: 01/04/2015

Online publication date: 13/01/2015

Acceptance date: 03/07/2014

Date deposited: 21/03/2016

ISSN (print): 0950-0170

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8722

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0950017014546666


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