Revisiting Entrepreneurship as Emancipation: Learning from subalternized women in post-revolutionary Tunisia

Amira Benali, Florence Villeseche

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In this article, we investigate how women beneficiaries in a social enterprise in post-revolutionary Tunisia are agents in their emancipation, including through infrapolitical tactics. We conceptualize their position as beneficiaries as a form of subalternity induced from social, economic and political injustice. We deploy the extended case method in a Tunisian ecotourism social enterprise, connecting the micro-level experiences of the women beneficiaries to the macro-level context. Our findings show how beneficiaries engage in three forms of emancipation: affirming their dreams; navigating gender relations; and defending their interests. We thus contribute to existing research by theoretically extending the emancipation–entrepreneurship locus beyond the lead entrepreneur. We also contribute by extending our understanding of subalternized people’s resistance repertoire beyond the hidden vs public resistance dichotomy. Finally, we challenge the representation of ‘subalterns’ as a homogeneous and passive category by showing the intersectional differences that affect these women’s agentic possibilities and, thus, their pathways to emancipation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Dec 2023


  • Global South
  • beneficiaries
  • entrepreneurship as emancipation
  • gender
  • infrapolitics
  • intersectionality
  • subalternity


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