Symbolic capital within the lived experiences of Eastern European migrants: a gendered perspective
journal contributionposted on 11.03.2020, 15:53 by Natalia Vershinina, Peter Rodgers
Despite recent large flows of migrants to the UK, the gendered nature of how men and women experience migrant entrepreneurial journeys remains under-researched. This article contributes to debates within the field of entrepreneurship by exploring the lived experiences of transnational migrant entrepreneurs setting up enterprises in the UK. Reporting the findings of interviews with forty-seven Eastern European transnational migrant entrepreneurs, this article focuses on the rarely discussed form of symbolic capital understood as the prestige, status and positive reputation individuals possess in the eyes of others. Our findings demonstrate the multifaceted and often gendered nature of forms of cultivated symbolic capital. Men use traditional conceptions of ‘status’ and ‘prestige’ to accrue forms of symbolic capital, which consequently facilitate and legitimate the transfer of economic capital into their UK businesses. In contrast, women, by setting up successful businesses in the UK, gain legitimacy in the eyes of family and friends in their home countries. This in turn enables them to overcome traditional gendered ascribed roles in which their visibility is centred solely around looking after children and the family. The article concludes by reflecting on the contributions and implications for theory and practice before identifying directions for further research.