This article examines the patch-working strategies of migrant entrepreneurs as a form of social agency. ‘Patch-working’ – the reliance on supplementary forms of income to support business activity – is often seen as a means of cushioning the financial vulnerability of small firms. However, the mechanisms and forms that patch-working takes tend to be overlooked. Evidence from 42 West Midlands’ firms shows that, despite the highly constrained operating environment, the exercise of social agency can help to cushion against disadvantage and to rework their current conditions through patch-working. This allows for business growth, and even transformational growth in some cases, rather than sheer survival. Even so, our findings show that the agency of migrant entrepreneurs brings about only minor improvements in revenue and is certainly not capable of fundamentally changing either the nature of the sector or the structure of the labour market in which they are embedded.
Bibliographical note© Sage 2018. The final publication is available via Sage at http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0950017018768203
- social agency
- migrant entrepreneurship