Manifestations of Social Class and Agency in Cultural Capital Development Processes: An Empirical Study of Turkish Migrant Women Entrepreneurs in Sweden



While migrant women entrepreneurs (MWE) have been studied extensively through the lenses of gender and ethnicity, social class, as an axis of difference, received scant attention in entrepreneurship and migrant enterprise literature. The purpose of this paper is to make an intersectional analysis on migrant women’s cultural capital development processes on the basis of not only gender and ethnicity, but also class relations.


The study draws on empirical insights generated through listening to the life story narratives of 17 women entrepreneurs from Turkey. This is a small, yet diverse group consisting of women who followed their male kin who have migrated to Sweden in the late 1960s as a labour force, and of highly educated political refugee women who have migrated to Sweden following the military coup in Turkey in the 1980s.


By linking pre-migration and post-migration lives through Bourdieusian class analysis, the analysis yielded three distinct types of habitus of the women-intersectional identity constructed through interweaving of certain historical and cultural practices and conditions, labelled as women (immigrant) entrepreneurs, migrant (women) entrepreneurs and hybrid entrepreneurs. Life stories demonstrated the ways the MWE relationally defined, and in turn, contested being the right kind of entrepreneur drawing on their type of habitus and forms of cultural capital within the rules of the game in the specific context of entrepreneurship.


This study shows how MWE generate diverse, yet at times similar, but historically and culturally conditioned responses in actively shaping the relationship between entrepreneurial resources and context-specific structural powers and aspects. This way, the study calls for enriching the extant debate on migrant women entrepreneurship in two ways. First, it suggests that the strategic fit between resources and opportunities does not entail an automatic and arbitrary process. Rather, it takes an effort and contestation carried out by the entrepreneurial actors, among whom the individual entrepreneur is the primary actor. In particular, it draws attention to the conditions of possibilities for agency as a result of struggle and intersectional power relations: social class, ethnicity and gender, which provide a differential degree of powers to the individual entrepreneur.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


immigrants, identity, entrepreneurship, cultural capital, social class, gender, agency, Bourdieu


Yeroz, H. (2019) Manifestations of social class and agency in cultural capital development processes: An empirical study of Turkish migrant women entrepreneurs in Sweden. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 25 (5), pp. 900-918


Research Institute