New migrant businesses and their workers: developing, but not transforming, the ethnic economy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

External organisations

  • University of Birmingham


Studies of businesses established by migrants to the UK traditionally stressed coethnic
relationships as economic resources. More recent work identifies a new
ethnic economy characterized by migrants’ common experiences, with
ethnicity playing less of a role. The present study complements this newer
perspective through investigation of the experiences of forty-nine business
owners and sixty of their workers in the West Midlands. Economic
relationships were central to the operation of migrant firms, and a minority of
firms escaped from sectors traditionally dominated by migrant firms. Yet
substantial continuity was also evident, including exclusion from the
mainstream on ethnic lines and relations with workers characterized by
informality. Migrant business is evolving but it retains many of its features;
this pattern can be explained by combining the mixed embeddedness theory
of the enterprise with labour process analysis.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1587-1617
Number of pages31
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number9
Early online date8 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Ethnic economy, Labour process, Mixed embeddedness, Migrant business, West Midlands, Worker agency

ASJC Scopus subject areas