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Centre of Latin American Studies


Popular entrepreneurship in the ruins of progress: mapping the wageless life in Brazil

1 May 2024, 12:30, Room 204

Henrique Bosso da Costa


This conversation aims to refer to the practices and ways of life of poor people, but “not so poor”, people whose flexibility is the hallmark of their trajectories. In Brazil, as well as in other countries in the Global South, the use of the term "entrepreneurship" has spread in different contexts, especially in popular territories. In this research, entrepreneurship emerges as category incorporated into the daily life of the periphery, organizing institutional discourses and individual references, not as something applied from the outside to individuals without agency, an ideological masking of economic activities considered precarious. Thus, at the peripheries of large cities, popular entrepreneurship results from an individualism embedded in popular experience, referring to a remote and persistent wageless life – a new composition that, at the same time as it opposes popular culture to a global wave of affirmation of instrumental rationality, has repercussions beyond its stricto sensu economic aspects and directly impacts popular ways of life, from the evangelicals to the "peripheral subjects" who see it as an appeal to modernity. The study was based on ethnography conducted at the periphery of São Paulo since 2017.