Smartphones and outsidership in Prato’s small business community

Graeme Johanson, Francesco Beghelli, Anja Fladrich

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


    The theories of outsidership and insidership, and of foreignness, create contested discourse about the globalization of businesses, large and small. This chapter reviews the relationships between businesses, Chinese migrants, and mobile telecommunications based on available published research and on two small constructivist studies undertaken in Prato, Italy in December 2015 and May 2016. The studies generated two fresh datasets that are analyzed in the chapter. Prior studies of Prato’s industrial district have been undertaken by economists, sociologists, political scientists, geographers, anthropologists, linguists, and media scholars (among others). This chapter focuses on overturning the usual representation of outsidership and foreignness in Prato. The chapter argues that many Wenzhounese outsiders (numerous hardworking micro businesspeople) insert their own portable insider networks and tight-knit practices in Prato. They thus marginalize the local textile manufacturers into the role of outsiders in their own territory. Many of the migrants from Wenzhou, China, along with their family businesses and self-selected virtual networks, tend to act independently with the assistance of smartphones. The trading conditions that they experience in Prato are similar to those in Wenzhou.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNative and Immigrant Entrepreneurship
    Subtitle of host publicationLessons for Local Liabilities in Globalization from the Prato Case Study
    EditorsSimone Guercini, Gabi Dei Ottati, Loretta Baldassar, Graeme Johanson
    Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)9783319441115
    ISBN (Print)9783319441108
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2017


    • Micro business
    • Migrants
    • Wenzhou
    • Chinese values
    • Chinese guanxi
    • Smartphones
    • Grounded theory

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