For many entrepreneurs, the American Dream remains only partially fulfilled. Unequal outcomes between the middle and lower classes, men and women, and Latino/as, whites, and blacks highlight continuing inequalities and constraints within American society. With a focus on a diverse group of Latino entrepreneurs, this book explores how class, gender, race, and ethnicity all shape Latino entrepreneurs' capacity to succeed in business in the United States.
Bringing intersectionality into conversation with theories of ethnic entrepreneurship, Zulema Valdez considers how various factors create, maintain, and transform the social and economic lives of Latino entrepreneurs. While certain group identities may impose unequal, if not discriminatory, starting positions, membership in these same social groups can provide opportunities to mobilize resources together. Valdez reveals how Latino entrepreneurs—as members of oppressed groups on the one hand, yet "rugged individualists" striving for the American Dream on the other—work to recreate their own positions within American society.
About the author
Zulema Valdez is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University.
"The New Entrepreneurs by Zulema Valdez makes important contributions to exploring these issues, exploring the interconnections between migration, race, labor, gender, and entrepreneurship. . . The research shows that many of those who are most committed to the American dream of entrepreneurship are exactly those who are most excluded from its full realization."
"In a persuasive use of an intersectional framework, Valdez reveals how privilege and disadvantage are reproduced for business owners, finding evidence of cumulative advantage and disadvantage in entrepreneurs' goals and motivations . . . Valdez's robust ethnographic approach . . . prompts her to remix some long-established sociological approaches so that she can account for how the intersecting dynamics of race, ethnicity, class, and gender shape embedded opportunities for success which, when realized, shape entrepreneurs' very understandings of the success they experience."
—Ivy Ken, Contemporary Sociology
"[R]eaders will benefit from how this book contributes to our knowledge of Latinos, a rapidly growing population . . . [and] serves as an important prompt for new longitudinal work on businesses . . . laudable."
—Alfonso Morales, Journal of Anthropological Research
"In this richly textured and engaging book, Valdez presents us with a fresh and nuanced look at entrepreneurship and a new angle from which to gauge how ethnicity and race matter in shaping people's lives. The embedded market framework she has developed is cutting edge and has great potential to inform future work. Valdez succeeds in debunking myths about 'cultural explanations' in favor of a lens that incorporates structure and agency to demonstrate how differences in social positions lead to divergent life chances."
—Cecilia Menjivar, Professor of Sociology, Arizona State University
"Drawing on a series of compelling interviews conducted in Houston—a major but under-studied area of immigrant settlement—Valdez addresses the importance of race, gender and class in the creation and functioning of immigrant businesses. Focusing on working class migrants, this creative study contributes much to our understanding Latino self-employment."
—Steven J. Gold, Michigan State University