Petty Capitalists and Globalization
Flexibility, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development
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Examines how small firms, like large ones, are mobilizing to compete in a global economy.
Globalization is often seen as driven by large corporations and supranational organizations. Enterprises operated by petty capitalists may be small, but there is nothing petty about their significance for the operation of economies or our understanding of contemporary societies, families, and localities. Petty Capitalism and Globalization uses ethnographic research to examine how small firms in Europe, Asia, and Latin America have been compelled to operate and compete in a fast-moving transnational economic environment. From Nepalese rug makers to German bakers to Taiwanese memory chip designers, these fascinating case studies delve into the complex situation of petty capitalists, often ambiguously situated between capital and labor, cooperation and exploitation, family and economy, tradition and modernity, friends and competitors. Understanding the position of petty capitalists in a global economy provides lessons in the potential and limitations of promoting small firms and entrepreneurship as a route to sustainable development.
Alan Smart and Josephine Smart are Professors of Anthropology at the University of Calgary. Alan Smart is the author of Making Room: Squatter Clearance in Hong Kong. Josephine Smart is the author of The Political Economy of Street Hawkers in Hong Kong and the coeditor (with Martha W. Rees) of Plural Globalities in Multiple Localities: New World Borders.