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The Mexican-American population has experienced a dramatic increase in ethnic entrepreneurship over the last several decades. In an attempt to explain this development, 25 Mexican-American entrepreneurs were interviewed in the Chicago area. These interviews focused upon the specific ethnic strategies used by these entrepreneurs to bridge the gap between the opportunity structures for entrepreneurship in the United States economy and the unique group characteristics or capacities for entrepreneurship characterizing the Mexican-American population. Based upon these interviews, we found that the favored ethnic strategy used by Mexican-American entrepreneurs involved attempts at socializing the economic encounter between co-ethnic customers and entrepreneurs. These socializing activities were examined using Goffman's frame analysis, with particular attention devoted to the collective organization of customer and entrepreneur experience in terms of an ethnic frame.
The chapters in Part I highlight some of the central reasons for studying entrepreneurship at the aggregate, family, and individual levels. Lippmann, Davis, and Aldrich develop society level propositions about the relationship between inequality and entrepreneurship. They define entrepreneurship for both individuals and societies, and they argue that factors such as development, state policies, sector shifts, and changing labor market conditions affect levels of inequality and also increase incentives for entrepreneurship. The authors distinguish entrepreneurship undertaken out of necessity and entrepreneurship that takes advantage of market opportunities, and they propose that changing social and economic conditions affect entry into each type of entrepreneurship. The arguments presented in this chapter are well-grounded in previous theoretical and empirical research, but they ask about the relationship between entrepreneurship and inequality in a fresh, new way. Not only does this chapter clarify the factors that lead to entrepreneurship, but it also identifies new relationships between business start-ups and stratification that have not been explored previously.