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Critically analyse gender roles and other factors surrounding family businesses

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  1. Introduction
  2. Analysis
  3. Conclusion

Family firms have played and still play a significant role in European economy. Most small businesses are family owned (Boissevain and Grotenbreg, 1987), and the importance of this type of business has experienced a significant development during recent decades. As Sampson (1982) indicated, the British economy experienced an increase in the number of small family business in Britain since the seventies. During the eighties, there was also a significant increment of this type of business in most European nations (Curran and Burrows, 1987). Different studies pointed out that the importance of small businesses as 'providers of employment, goods, and services' (Goffee and Scase, 1987: 60) was extremely significant in occidental countries throughout the eighties. However, as Curran and Burrows (1987) argued, few sociological researches have intended to analyse family firms.

Curran and Burrows (1987) argued that the reason why contemporary sociologists have ignored the study of small businesses was the influence of the work of classical theorists like Weber, Durkheim, and Marx. These three theorists argued that small businesses were characteristic of the first stages of industrialisation. In their opinion, small enterprises were condemned to disappear after this phase, ?doomed to be displaced by the increasing concentration, centralisation, and rationalisation of capitalistic forms of production' (Curran and Burrows, 1987: 164). Despite the lack of sociological analysis about this subject, several studies published during the eighties and nineties such as the one of Yaganisako (1991) have tried to analyze how kinship networks influence family business.

[...] Kinship networks provide resources for businesses. This is especially significant in the case of ethnic business, in which family provides a source of capital during the phase of wealth creation, as well as a labour force, which enables firms to compete in the market. Studies of immigrant-run enterprises have pointed out that family involvement does only benefit family firms, but is also a crucial factor for their survival. Studies about family firms owned by members of ethnic minorities have showed the important role played by trust and loyalty in the business performance of family firms. [...]

[...] (1995) ?Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity?. London: Hamish Hamilton Ltd. Published by Penguin Books Ltd. (Penguin Group). Goffee, R. and R. Scase (eds.) (1987) ?Entrepreneurship in Europe: The Social Processes?. Beckenham: Croom Helm Publishers Ltd. Goffee, R. and R. Scase (1987) ?Patterns of Business Proprietorship among Women in Britain', in Goffee, R. and R. Scase (eds.) (1987) ?Entrepreneurship in Europe: The Social Processes?. Beckenham: Croom Helm Publishers Ltd. Keating, P. and D. Desmond (1999) ?Culture and Capitalism in Contemporary Ireland?. [...]

[...] (1995) ?Gendered Work: Sexuality, family and the labour market?. Buckingham: Open University Press. Bamford, J. (1987) ?The Development of Small Firms, the Traditional Family and Agrarian Patterns in Italy', in Goffee, R. and R. Scase (eds.) (1987) ?Entrepreneurship in Europe: The Social Processes?. Beckenham: Croom Helm Publishers Ltd. Brettell, C. B. (1991) ?Property, Kinship, and Gender: A Mediterranean Perspective', in Kertzer, D. I. and R. P. Saller (eds.) (1991) ?The Family in Italy: from Antiquity to the Present?. London: Yale University Press. [...]

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