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The ethnicised hustle: narratives of enterprise and postfeminism among young migrant women

journal contribution
posted on 2021-02-19, 00:00 authored by Sherene Idriss
Discourses of hustling are ever-present in a global, capitalist society in which, among other reforms, notions of time are compressed and intensified and neoliberalism is operationalised as a form of affective self-governance. Global brand campaigns like Nike’s ‘Rise and Grind’ want consumers to believe that hard work and persistence produces individual exceptionalism. Young people working in technology, cultural and creative industries in urban cities ‘never stop hustling – one never exits a kind of work rapture, in which the chief purpose of exercising or attending a concert is to get inspiration that leads back to the desk’ . This is the latest iteration of a corporatised vision of the hustle that seeks to glamourise exploitative working conditions, creating a culture where overwork and an obsession with being productive is the norm. This article considers how these discourses come into contact with localised migrant understandings of ‘the hustle’: an orientation to work rooted in the legacy of ethnic entrepreneurship. Drawing on a qualitative study with creative and cultural workers of ethnic minority backgrounds in Australia, the article explores their motivations to pursue creative vocational pathways in spite of structural challenges. While creative and cultural workers are heralded as model entrepreneurial subjects for their highly autonomous and flexible work patterns, here I draw on narratives about work and creative expression to suggest that the experiences of racialised young women lead to new possibilities for a race critical analysis of postfeminist, neoliberal discourses of entrepreneurship. By exploring how precarity and work insecurity is negotiated in the context of racialised young women’s lives, I ask what the implications are for minority young women who buy into the neoliberal values of individual exceptionalism and the myths of meritocracy while remaining embedded in their local communities.

History

Journal

European journal of cultural studies

Pagination

1 - 17

Publisher

SAGE Publications

Location

London, Eng.

ISSN

1367-5494

eISSN

1460-3551

Language

English

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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