Episode 76 – Claire Doussard – Barefoot entrepreneurs trapped in liminal spaces: the case of homeless youths in New York City
The barefoot entrepreneurship literature rarely acknowledges the role of space in the development of informal economic activities. However, the concept of liminal space, defined as a place of transition and largely discussed in geography, can provide a new conceptual lens through which the trajectories of barefoot entrepreneurs can be viewed. This interdisciplinary research leverages this perspective to raise the following question: How do barefoot entrepreneurs experience liminal spaces to engage in informal economic activities? To answer this question, this article explores how 10 homeless youths in New York City panhandle, steal, deal and prostitute themselves to survive. Drawing on a four-year ethnography and the use of geographic methods, we explain how these barefoot entrepreneurs experience liminal spaces. More precisely, we underline how these spaces are ambivalent places of becoming: on the one hand, they support the development of barefoot entrepreneurship; but on the other hand, they lead to ‘entrepreneurial traps’ in the sense that these activities tend to increase the entrepreneurs’ marginality. Based on these results, we contribute to the literature on barefoot entrepreneurship, and to a better understanding of the implication of liminal spaces in entrepreneurial dynamics.
Full article available on Taylor & Francis website: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08985626.2023.2233010