Becoming entrepreneurs: labor precarity, social class, and aspiration in neoliberal Chile

In this line of research we will examine entrepreneurial discourses and practices through programs oriented toward the creation of micro-entrepreneurs. We intend to focus on micro-entrepreneurial practices in marginal sectors of Chilean society through analyzing participation in state and private-sector initiatives that aim to train and assist both current and prospective small-scale entrepreneurs. We will also look into notions of the “entrepreneurial self” and aspirations of change in a Chilean economy, where few have realistic hopes of attaining long-term economic stability. Research will place emphasis on the relationship between desires for mobility and the broader political-economic context of entrepreneurial activities, forms of sociality that emerge through efforts to cultivate micro-entrepreneurship, and perspectives on specific programs and organizations that are involved in such efforts.


Consuelo Araos • Main Researcher

Consuelo Araos is an assistant professor at the Institute of Sociology of the Catholic University of Chile. She is a sociologist and PhD in Social Sciences at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. Her research focuses on the co-production of domestic space and practical kinship through the observation of residential proximities in urban context. Her research investigates ethnographic and phenomenological perspectives, intersecting sociology, anthropology and architecture. Since 2006, she has conducted fieldwork with family configurations from different socio-economic backgrounds in Santiago. Currently, she participates in the 9x18 Laboratory of the UC School of Architecture, where she conducts applied research on innovative dwelling environments and urban regeneration policies in peri-urban areas. 

Piergiorgio di Giminiani • Associated Researcher

My interests focus on conservation, landscape, property, agriculture, indigeneity and environmental affect. I have carried out fieldwork in Italy and Chile. Based on collaborative research with a group of Mapuche claimants, my book, “Sentient Lands: Indigeneity, Property and Political Imagination in Neoliberal Chile” explores the ontological and political intersections between property and local forms of territory put in motion by indigenous activism and state projects of reparation. In my new book project, I examine the relations linking settlers, indigenous farmers, state functionaries, NGO activists and scientists affected by forest conservation projects in southern Chile. I am interested in the way in which different forms of world-making coexist, entangle and enter into conflict in the context of forest use and conservation. The existence of forests as both univocal cultural constructions and indeterminate assemblages prompts us to rethink humanism beyond straightforward accounts of human exceptionalism. Some of the ideas emerging from this project are depicted in a short documentary, “Cañi”, 2017. I have recently started a new ethnographic project in south-central Italy (Abruzzo) with a focus on the abandonment and reclaiming of agricultural life in the context of chronic economic, political and moral crisis. I focus on two activities with opposite historical trajectories: declining transhumant sheep farming and internationally growing wine-making. I am interested in the tension between localism as an affective, purposeful and precarious attachment to the land, and globalism, an economic and political horizon sustained by desires of modernization and liberalization. This tension offers a vantage point for understanding the current emergence of anti-liberalism in Italy in the midst of frustrated cosmopolitan promises. Parallel to my research in Italy, I have just embarked on a project titled Becoming entrepreneurs: an ethnographic approach to micro-entrepreneurship, neoliberalism and state action in Chile funded by FONDECYT regular grant. This project aims to examine processes of self-making and relations with governmental actors among potential and actual micro-entrepreneurs in Chile through a particular focus on social aspiration and experiences of precariousness. As part of  this multi-sited project, I will carry out ethnographic research in south-East Santiago

Consuelo Banda • MA Researcher

My name is Consuelo Banda and I am working as a masters researcher in the Entrepreneurship and Microfinance topic of the ENA Project. I am a graduate of Theory and History of Art from the Universidad de Chile and I am currently studying a MA in Urban Development at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. After my undergraduate studies I became interested and worked on topics like community based art, play, urban studies and feminism. As a postgraduate student my main interest has been investigate the urban inequalities by gender. My research is focused on leisure practices performed by women in the public space in Valparaiso from a feminist geography perspective.

Constanza Quezada • Research Assistant

My name is Constanza Quezada and I am working as a research assistant in the Entrepreneurship and Microfinance topic of the ENA Project. I am a graduate of anthropology of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. During the second semester of 2018 I participated in a research to get my degree  as a Social Anthropologist in the framework of the Regular Fondecyt “Turismo y Pueblos Indígenas: Estudio de discursos, prácticas y políticas públicas en tres territorios de Chile”, where I worked with Mapuche women with tourism entrepreneurships. I am interested in topics related to education, gender and social policies.

Gregorio Valdés • Research Assistant

My name is Gregorio Valdés and I am currently working as a research assistant in the «Enterpreneurship and microfinance» topic of the ENA Project. I am a graduate of Sociology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. During 2019, for my degree, I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in pericentral and peripheral areas of Santiago studying vecinal configurations and organizations oriented to the self-management of neighborhoods for the Laboratorio 9x18, an interdisciplinary organization from the Architecture and Urban Studies department of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. My focus of interest are mainly around the study of domestic urban life, social inequality, exchange and micro transactions.