Unpacking Privilege: Exploring Privileged Migrant Women's Entrepreneurship in the Swedish Labour Market

Karen Haandrikman, Stockholm University, Department of Human Geography
Natasha Webster, Stockholm University, Department of Human Geography

This paper focuses on women migrant entrepreneurship as a pathway for immigration integration and inclusion showing that pathways to entrepreneurialism are not always equal. Studies on race in entrepreneurship have emphasized how the ‘other’, particularly for migrant women entrepreneurs, are excluded from mainstream entrepreneurial activities and resources through structural racism. In Sweden, whiteness and other privilege forms, is a hegemonic taken-for-granted norm. Yet privilege as a pathway to labour market integration remains under explored. Our research question is: How is privilege revealed in contemporary migrant women entrepreneurship? The study uses a multi-method approach, with a combination of economic life course histories and descriptive statistics based on register data. We use Wernet’s (2016) classification of countries into pro-woman states to classify countries of birth according to privilege. Preliminary results show that privilege is a relevant characteristic when examining entrepreneurship. Migrants coming from the most privileged countries, about half of all migrant women in Sweden, have the highest self-employment rates, while non-privileged migrants (29% of all migrant women) have the lowest rates. The most privileged women have incomes near that of native women, while migrant women from less privileged contexts have lower annual incomes. Preliminary results from the interviews and ethnographic fieldwork indicate that privilege is actively accessed and mobilized in entrepreneurial activities by migrants. Privilege is reflected in the ways migrant entrepreneurs build embodied, objectified and institutional forms of social capital. Results contribute to an improved understanding of successful pathways for immigrants into entrepreneurships. The study offers insights for understanding how privilege provides insights into how migrants are included or excluded from economic social spheres.

Presented in Poster Session 3