Gender and Enterprise

Holly Ritchie

Two recent publications by Holly Ritchie, researcher with the Civic Innovation research group at the International Institute of Social Studies, on gender and enterprise.

Gender and Enterprise in 'Fragile Settings' - Syrian refugees in Jordan

The first is a research publication appearing in SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2, entitled ‘Investigating Gender and Enterprise in “Fragile” Refugee Settings: The Use of Critical Realism to Explore Institutional Dynamics and Change’.

In this publication, Ritchie explores Syrian refugee women’s evolving economic lives, and related socio-cultural dynamics in the context of Jordan. Adopting an 'institutionalist' perspective, the research looked at the precarious nature of emerging social and economic practices—including women’s increased public mobility, and new work norms in enterprise.

The empirical study drew on an 'exploratory' in-depth case study approach, critical realism, to examine 'less known social phenomena' in institutional change and the interplay between structure and agency. 

Gender and Enterprise in Somali Migrant Communities

The second publication is a chapter entitled 'Challenging the Status Quo from the Bottom Up? Gender and Enterprise in Somali Migrant Communities in Nairobi, Kenya’ which appears in Mobile Urbanity: Somali Presence in Urban East Africa, edited by Neil Carrier and Tabea Scharrer.

Building on earlier doctoral research in Afghanistan (Ritchie 2016), this chapter focuses on female Somali entrepreneurs, looking at gender through the lens of social change in Somali migrant communities in the uncertain district of Eastleigh in Nairobi, Kenya.

In refugee settings, new economic needs (or demands) can precipitate social change for migrant women and this can arguably be challenging for family men, as they strive to adjust to women’s changing gender roles and negotiate ‘respectable masculinity’ (Kleist 2010). The discussion highlights the precarious nature of refugee women’s evolving economic practices under strained displacement conditions, with little community negotiation and acceptance. Yet the chapter draws attention to the development of social structures in Eastleigh that may reinforce the stability of these ‘new’ institutions. 

About the author

Dr Holly Ritchie is a consultant and research fellow at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS). She graduated with a PhD (cum laude) from ISS in 2013. She is founder of THRIVE for Change (Kenya) with a special focus on gender, norms and change in fragile environments.