Precarious prosperity’? Social (im)mobilities among young entrepreneurs in Kampala

Laura Camfield, Will Monteith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The chapter uses an opportunistic sample of 16 Kampalan entrepreneurs who have been surveyed and interviewed on multiple occasions during the past four years to explore the salience of Hubinger’s concept of ‘precarious prosperity’ in a Sub-Saharan African context (Hubinger, 1996). When the participants were first surveyed, they were at a similar economic level and working in a range of businesses from selling bananas to electronics repair. However, the past four years have seen dramatic changes in their lives, reflecting their differential positioning within social space and access to capital. In some cases, these changes have frustrated their plans, but in others, they have enabled them; in all cases challenging the notion of a linear life course. In this chapter, we look at how entrepreneurs – a category celebrated in the Ugandan media - are positioned within social space in Uganda and the resources or capitals they draw on to achieve often fleeting social mobility.
In explaining contrasting experiences within the sample, we combine concepts from life course research such as ‘linked lives’ and anthropology such as subjunctivity to capture the ‘patterned indeterminacy’ in their lives that can be obscured by the language of pathways and trajectories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial immobilities in Africa
Subtitle of host publicationEthnographic Approaches
EditorsJoel Noret
PublisherBerghahn Books
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this