8Cruel optimism

The stories of entrepreneurial attachments

Natasha Slutskaya, Oliver Mallett and Janet Borgerson


Drawing on Berlant’s concept of cruel optimism, the chapter explores entrepreneurial attachment to success ethics (a system of legitimation that prioritizes norms and actions consistent with institutionalized notions of success) (Berger & Luckmann, 1966) generated by a cluster of promises afforded by the enterprise culture. Based on five life stories of entrepreneurs who had first-hand experience of bankruptcy, this chapter aims at gaining a more nuanced understanding of why the uniformity and orthodoxy of identities around an entrepreneurial ideal persist and grow in the context of entrepreneurial failure. The chapter ...

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