Original Research

When entrepreneurship becomes a tool for political hegemony

Maria M. Smit, Marius Pretorius
Acta Commercii | Vol 23, No 1 | a1086 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v23i1.1086 | © 2023 Maria M. Smit, Marius Pretorius | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 July 2022 | Published: 24 May 2023

About the author(s)

Maria M. Smit, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Marius Pretorius, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Orientation: From a critical entrepreneurship perspective, this article examines the potential hegemonic nature of the mainstream entrepreneurship discourse.

Research objectives: (1) To determine what mainstream entrepreneurship assumptions and resulting discourses are being reproduced in the South African media discourse. (2) To determine if and how this current discourse is naturalising knowledge claims about ‘entrepreneurship’. (3) To highlight the hegemonic possibilities of producing and reproducing this discourse in a South African context. (4) To provide recommendations that could mitigate the potential hegemonic entrepreneurship discourse in South Africa.

Motivation for the study: Everything labelled ‘entrepreneurship’ is not contributing to job creation and economic development equally. From a critical standpoint it is becoming evident that the assumptions underlying mainstream entrepreneurship discourse – especially when entrepreneurship is used as a development tool – have to be challenged.

Research design, approach and method: Random purposive sampling is employed by searching English print media articles containing relevant key words that were published in South African English newspapers between 01 January 2018 and 31 December 2018. The sampling frame was obtained from Sabinet through the University of Pretoria Library SA Media database. A critical discourse analysis is conducted on the final sample of 63 articles.

Main findings: The South African media discourse replicates the mainstream entrepreneurship knowledge claims that any and all type of entrepreneurial activity is essentially the same and that anything labelled ‘entrepreneurship’ will lead to economic development and job creation. These knowledge claims have become normalised in the South African discourse. The dominance of this mainstream discourse on entrepreneurship is opening the way for political hegemony in a South African context.

Practical/managerial implications: The South African scholarly community has to take up its responsibility as actors of social change and challenge the reigning public discourse in the field of entrepreneurship that is resulting in political hegemony.

Contribution/value-add: This article shows that the failure to distinguish between different types of entrepreneurship is providing a fertile ground for political hegemony.


critical entrepreneurship theory; critical discourse analysis; political hegemony; media discourse; theoretical assumptions.


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