Dissertation Abstracts

The Pakistani Community and Their Businesses in Barcelona: Trajectories, Opportunities and Dynamics around Self-Employment

Author: Güell, Berta , berta.guell@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain
Supervisor: Sònia Parella
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: Catalan and English

Keywords: Ethnic entrepreneurship , Pakistani immigration , Spain , Mixed methods
Areas of Research: Migration , Economy and Society , Community Research


Pakistani migrants appear to be one of the most active groups in working as self-employed together with other Asian communities. Today Pakistanis represent the second biggest foreign group in Barcelona. However, the community remains an under-researched one in the field of immigration in Spain. The emergence of ethnic businesses is precisely one of the areas that makes them more visible and constitutes a gateway to explore the internal dynamics of the community. This study is aimed at better understanding the motivations surrounding self-employment by looking at the transnational migration trajectories of Pakistani entrepreneurs and workers, as well as the context and structure of opportunities in which ethnic businesses emerge. The role of the key actors involved in the local commercial landscape will be carefully analysed in order to define what enabling and constraining factors are in place, and to map the interactions between each other in the political, institutional, economic and social arenas.

In order to meet these goals, a mixed methods approach is used. The analysis considers three different neighbourhoods of Barcelona: El Raval, which is the diaspora’s nodule, el Besòs which is the second most highly populated part of the city and where Pakistani migrants arrived at a later stage, and Gràcia which does not attract many residents, but is witnessing a growing number of Pakistani businesses. The mapping of businesses and in-depth interviews with key informants and Pakistani entrepreneurs and workers is used as the main research techniques to better understand migration trajectories, pathways to self-employment, use of ethnic strategies and identity. The data generated by the fieldwork will also allow contributions to the theoretical debate around the ‘ethnic’ character of migrants' businesses and to further explore the economy of an ethnic enclave in a southern European city.

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