Producing the Entrepreneur: Subject and Choices in Local Moral Worlds in Urban Tanzania


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Sociology and Anthropology Department


Why do business grants provided to Tanzanian youth to start businesses as a means out of poverty fail? The common reason given is the lack of an economic ethos. Drawing from my PhD thesis, this book project calls for economic rationality to be broadly interpreted to include social-cultural aspects and human desires for dignity, esteem and aspirations as key factors in shaping entrepreneurial incentives and outcomes. Using ethnographic data of young entrepreneurs and social media conversations, the book will show how economic practices cannot simply be abstracted from social-cultural life and categories that define it. Far from simply providing a context in which economic activities occur or are in constant tension with rational calculations in the market, it will show how social-cultural lives frame the motivations and meanings the youth attach to entrepreneurship projects