Panel no. 15 - Coming of Age as Entrepreneurs: Biopolitics and Ethics of Youth in Modern-Day Economies


Title Mr First name Miha Last name Kozorog
Institution ZRC SAZU City Ljubljana Country SI


Title Ms First name Tihana Last name Rubić
Institution name Univ. of Zagreb City Zagreb Country HR


Panel title

Coming of Age as Entrepreneurs: Biopolitics and Ethics of Youth in Modern-Day Economies

Panel abstract

Capitalism has been increasingly targeting young people as agents of innovation, artful users of new technologies, and acquainted devotees of trendy leisure activities, which classifies them as able to create fresh niches for capital extraction. The neoliberal imposition of flexibility honors young people for their lightness of movement, "out of the box" thinking, aptitude for self-invention, performative novelties and other (presumed) qualities. In many parts of the world, "entrepreneurial flexibility" (Freeman 2007) is widely promoted in schools, mass- and social media. Anthropologists have just started to report on this trend's cultural specificities; in Africa (Honeyman 2016), Asia (Huang 2020), Europe (Kozorog 2018), the Middle East (Kanna 2010), Russia (Yurchak 2003), and the US (Gershon 2016). New institutions (incubators, coworking spaces, ecosystems) and new social roles (mentors, local leaders, influencers) have been invented to lead young people in their self-recognition and realization as entrepreneurial subjects. Moreover, the recent global economic crisis has painted "dark times" (Pina-Cabral 2018) and a precarious future for future generations, which has further stimulated policies aimed at enterprise youth. In this context, many young people found no better option than turning their knowledge, skills, and hobbies to small businesses, whereas others recognized entrepreneurship as part of youth culture and an alluring identification opportunity or personality-shaping paragon. The panel welcomes ethnographies of young people's careers, embedded in the practical and ideological restraints of neoliberal economies yet sensitive for ethical self-reflection of young entrepreneurs themselves. The panel strives to link anthropologies of capitalisms and ethics.

IUAES Commission