'Don't forget to like, share and subscribe': Digital autopreneurs in a neoliberal world

Rachel Ashman, Anthony Patterson, Stephen Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)
125 Downloads (Pure)


We seek to move beyond the exalted figure of the heroic entrepreneur that predominates the study of entrepreneurship; to take a less agentic view of entrepreneurship; to tell stories rarely told, and to demonstrate how historical and technocultural forces are as instrumental in directing entrepreneurial activity as individual motivations. We enlist the work of Foucault and others, in conjunction with netnographic fieldwork that focuses on an assemblage of young YouTubers striving to become what we call autopreneurs. We reveal how they internalize a structure of feeling, divined from neoliberal ideology that shapes their everyday affairs. We find that three main wellsprings – the dynamics of competition, the creativity dispositif, and technologies of the self – detrimentally affect the quality of their lives and collectively institute a ‘cruel optimism’ which promises much but delivers little. We conclude with some thoughts on the ramifications of our work for the study of entrepreneurship
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-483
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Business Research
Early online date4 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Nov 2018


  • Neoliberalism
  • Entrepreneurship
  • YouTube
  • Subjectivity
  • Critical


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