Imre Szeman


With this special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly we seek to interrogate the ways in which the idea of entrepreneurship and the figure of the entrepreneurial subject functions politically, economically, and aesthetically. Although this topic has been and is being addressed from business, management, and organization perspectives, there has been little sustained investigation from a cultural studies, humanities, and social science perspective since Foucualt’s preliminary investigations in the 1970s. While his work appears prescient (coming before the neoliberal regimes inaugurated by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan), the intensified developments of entrepreneurial modes of economic and social being since the 1980s deserve renewed interest.

Our issue will address this gap in contemporary cultural research on enterprise and the entrepreneur. We see these terms embodying a number of other key words that increasingly structure the ways in which correct behavior is imagined for individuals and communities: flexibility, perpetual training, innovation, risk management, leadership, creativity, self-motivation, responsibility, and all those other ways in which the individual must become, in Foucault’s words, the site of “permanent and multiple enterprise” (241). As well, investigations of the entrepreneurial can themselves incorporate any number of other key concepts for contemporary cultural studies and social science: precarity, development, governmentality and biopolitics, liberalism and neoliberalism, globalization, debt and credit, financialization, workfare and other decentered modes of employment, the celebration of the individual, and so on.