Speculative futures at the bottom of the pyramid

Dolan, Catherine and Rajak, Dinah (2018) Speculative futures at the bottom of the pyramid. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 24 (2). pp. 233-255. ISSN 1359-0987

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Celebrated as creative, flexible catalysts of inclusive capitalism, urban youth are central to bottom‐of‐the‐pyramid (BoP) models of development, which set out to repurpose the jobless as entrepreneurs in the making. We explore the multiple (at times conflicting) temporalities – the practices, technologies, and representations of time – which figure in a BoP initiative offering entrepreneurial opportunities to unemployed youth in Nairobi's slums: from the invocation of clock‐time discipline to the professional time of entrepreneurial subjectivities and the enchantments of the not‐yet. But the appeal of BoP, we suggest, does not turn either on the here‐and‐now of survival or on an impossible pipe dream of prosperity, but rather resides firmly in the medium term: a foreseeable future of modest desires, which nonetheless remain tantalizingly just out of reach for most. By examining how these temporal conflicts play out in attempts to fashion a cadre of self‐willed, aspiring entrepreneurs, we reveal the limits to entrepreneurial agency, and the contradictions inherent in the mission of (self‐)empowerment through enterprise upon which the ideology of inclusive markets is built.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
School of Global Studies > International Development
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2018 16:13
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2019 16:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/72964

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