Företagande i minoritet : om etnicitet, strategier och resurser bland assyrier och syrianer i Södertälje

Sammanfattning: This study deals with how Assyrian and Syrian entrepreneurs in Södertälje relate to those around them both within and outside the ethnic community. It is based on conversational interviews conducted between 1992 and 1996 with thirty male and five female entrepreneurs as well as on participatory observation in the summer and autumn of 1994. The purpose of the study is to investigate when, where and how ethnicity becomes or is made socially relevant for the entrepreneurs. I conducted this investigation by studying how they shape their business activities in relation to the structural conditions which are generated in social relations. The study highlights the strategies that the individual entrepreneur uses to remove obstacles and take advantage of opportunities. Theoretically it takes its departure in an interactionist perspective.The strategies of the entrepreneurs showed how they actively tried to influence the way people in their surroundings categorized them. The entrepreneurs who had ambitions to develop their businesses were, for example, extremely scrupulous with hygiene and with how they expressed themselves in the Swedish language in their encounters with customers and the authorities. It was their way of creating more latitude for action and trying to influence and modify structural conditions.The importance of having a common ethnic background varied. Ethnic resources were utilized to a much greater extent in smaller businesses than in those that were larger and more specialized. The opportunities for personal loans and for obtaining labor and other support varied according to the person’s/family’s reputation in the eyes of others. The extent and the quality of the social network also had great significance for a person’s opportunities to utilize the family-based and ethnic resources to start and run one’s own business. Common ethnicity was, however, not a sufficient criterion for borrowing money from or working together with relatives, friends and acquaintances. The evaluation of personal characteristics was at least as important.