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Identities and the pursuit of legitimacy: A study of black women wine industry entrepreneurs

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>22/11/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number8
Number of pages26
Pages (from-to)2182-2207
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The aim of this study is to better understand how black women utilize capital to frame their entrepreneurial identities in order to become legitimate and thus challenge institutional norms. To achieve this, the study draws on perspectives on legitimacy, identity and capital and focuses on the well-established wine industry in South Africa.

Using in-depth qualitative data from semi-structured interviews, this study delves into the lived experiences of nine black women entrepreneurs and three stakeholders in the South African wine industry. Such a context is unique because of the aspects of exclusion and segregation of black women. The data were supplemented with associated secondary material and were analysed using the constant comparative technique.

This study reveals dissonance, that is, a misfit, between black women's social identities and their entrepreneurial self-identities in the South African wine industry; the study uncovers that specific capital forms allow framing their identity through heroical self-description, exploiting professionalism and enacting new roles to alter the perception of what is socially legitimate in the wine industry.

This study contributes to understanding by highlighting that black women entrepreneurs in the wine industry rebel against the expectation that they must fit into a predetermined role. The study highlights the relevance of legitimacy, identity and capital theoretical perspectives to study an underexplored context and unpack how black women challenge the barriers that affect their entrepreneurial identities in their quest to become legitimate. The value of this study revolves around revealing the underexplored connection between entrepreneurial identity and legitimacy through actions taken by black women entrepreneurs when reworking the role(s) tied to their social identities. The findings suggest the importance of capital, particularly cultural capital, in how black women entrepreneurs become legitimate in the wine industry. Avenues for further research are offered.