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Entrepreneurial agency and field relations: A Realist Bourdieusian Analysis

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Steve VincentORCiD, Dr Victoria PaganORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by SAGE Publications Ltd, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2018, The Author(s) 2018. This article addresses the problem of understanding and assessing how entrepreneurial and self-employed workers engage with economic fields as they pursue their interests. It considers the differing experiences of entrepreneurial workers by developing a transferable approach to studying the relations between their environments, practices and values. The approach developed combines Bourdieusian and critical realist scholarship to explore qualitative data about the networking practices of 25 self-employed and entrepreneurial human resource consultants who competed in a conurbation in the North of England. We argue that the form of analysis that develops, which we call Realist Bourdieusian Analysis, reveals more about the causal properties of the social formations entrepreneurial workers navigate than analyses that are limited within each lexicon. Arguably, combining Bourdieusian analysis and critical realism enriches our understanding of the constituent parts of economic fields, the resources entrepreneurial workers access through them, and agents’ relations, experiences and reflexive struggles. This novel approach, we argue, facilitates deeper appreciation of these workers’ experiences and more insightful critique of existing supports to entrepreneurship, as well as the possibility of prescribing policy supports that might enable workers within the field studied. The analysis concludes by highlighting the practical, theoretical and methodological contributions of this research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vincent S, Pagan V

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Relations

Year: 2019

Volume: 72

Issue: 2

Pages: 188-216

Print publication date: 01/02/2019

Online publication date: 28/05/2018

Acceptance date: 28/02/2018

Date deposited: 28/02/2018

ISSN (print): 0018-7267

ISSN (electronic): 1741-282X

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/0018726718767952


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