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Social Problems





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Much has been written in the ethnic entrepreneurship literature about the contrasting business performance of African American entrepreneurs and those from other minority and immigrant groups. Yet very little research has been conducted by social scientists on the business experiences of black entrepreneurs. In this exploratory study we examine the situation of black contractors in the U.S. construction industry, utilizing 76 in-depth interviews in one of the South's metropolitan areas. We document the nuanced character of the racial barriers faced by black contractors in several areas of the construction industry. We find racial discrimination in unions, in white general contractors' contracting and bidding processes, in construction project conditions, and in the bonding, lending, supplier networks critical to a successful construction business. Looking at persisting discrimination theoretically, we suggest examination of the cumulative, interlocking, and externally-amplified dimensions of discrimination. Our empirical and conceptual analyses provide a start toward understanding how discrimination is organized in a major U.S. industrial sector long neglected in social science research.


Published asFeagin, J. R., & Imani, N. (1994). Racial Barriers to African American Entrepreneurship: An Exploratory Study. Social Problems, 41, 4, 562-584. © 1994 by the Regents of the University of California/on behalf of Society for the Study of Social Problems. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California/on behalf of Society for the Study of Social Problems for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on [JSTOR (] or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center,"