Masculinity, doxa and institutionalisation of entrepreneurial identity in the novel Cityboy.
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Purpose – As a result of a plethora of scholarly articles by feminist scholars of entrepreneurship, it is now widely accepted that the notion of entrepreneurship is ideologically skewed towards masculine ideology. Although this body of work has been quietly acknowledged, it has not invoked a reply, or refutation, from male entrepreneurship scholars. Nor has it led to an increase in studies about the influence of masculinity on entrepreneurial behaviour or identity. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to begin to address this by analysing an alternative social construction of entrepreneurship relating to how masculinity influences entrepreneurial identity in print. The data used are text from the thinly veiled biographical novel Cityboy written in an aggressive and unashamedly masculine style. Whilst the focus is not upon entrepreneurs per se, it is upon the male-oriented entrepreneurial institution that is the “city.” Design/methodology/approach – The methodological approach used in this paper is that of biographical analysis; supported by a supplementary analysis of similar biographies of traders; this is triangulated by photographs downloaded from the internet. This approach allows rich data to be collected from practical sources permitting a comparative approach to be adopted. The approach has obvious limitations but is a practical method. Findings – The results from this empirical study are tentative but illustrate that the socially constructed nature of the “city trader” as an entrepreneurial identity is portrayed as being a manly pursuit; and how such discrimination is inherent within an institutionalised systemic behaviour in which men are encouraged to be risk-takers and players. This institutionalised “boyish” behaviour is used to build up a masculine identity rooted in Thatcherite enterprise culture. Although no clear conclusion can be articulated because of the subjective nature of the interpretation, links with accepted entrepreneurship theory are drawn. It is thus an exploratory study into the pervasiveness of masculine doxa in constructing entrepreneurial identity. The paper makes an incremental contribution by acknowledging the power of male dominance in shaping entrepreneurial realities albeit the conclusions are mainly drawn from one book. Research limitations/implications – This paper opens up the field for further studies of skewed masculine entrepreneurial identities under the rubric of the “bad boy entrepreneur.” Originality/value – In critically discussing and acknowledging the male genderedness of entrepreneurial identity in a particular system, this paper makes a contribution to the understanding of the socially constructed nature of how to tell, understand and appreciate stories which present an entrepreneurial identity. Granted the hero of the story is fictional but the overlaps with the accepted storylines of entrepreneur stories are illuminating. The paper provides another heuristic device for understanding the social construction of gendered entrepreneurial identities, making it of interest to feminist scholars of entrepreneurship and to social constructionists alike.