Beyond the dolls house? Barbie entrepreneur dolls and the commodification, fetishisation and consumption of idealised, gendered entrepreneurial identity

Robert Smith*, Sara Nadin, Sally Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
180 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Purpose
This article examines the concepts of gendered, entrepreneurial identity and fetishism through an analysis of images of Barbie entrepreneur. It draws on the literatures of entrepreneurial identity and fetishism to examine how such identity is socially constructed from childhood and how exposure to such dolls can shape and influence perceptions of entrepreneurial identity.

Design/Methodology/Approach

Using semiotic analysis we conduct a visual analysis of the Barbie to make observations and inferences on gendered entrepreneurial identity and fetishism from the dolls and artefacts.

Findings
The gendered images of Barbie dolls were influenced by societal perceptions of what an entrepreneur should look like, reflecting the fetishisation of entrepreneurship, especially for women. Mirroring and exaggerating gendered perceptions, the dolls express hyper-femininity reflected in both the physical embodiment of the doll as well as their adornments / accessories. This includes handbags, high-heeled shoes, short skirts, haute-couture and designer clothes. Such items and the dolls themselves become fetishised objects, making context and culture of vital importance.

Research Implications/Limitations
There are positive and negative implications in relation to how we might, as a society, present unrealistic gendered images and role models of entrepreneurship to children. The obvious limitation is that the methodology limits what can be said or understood, albeit the imagery mirrors socially constructed reality for the context examined.

Originality/Value
This is original research in that no previous published studies have tackled gendered entrepreneurial identity in relation to fetishism. The value of the work lies in discussing the concepts and embeds them in the expanding conversation surrounding gendered entrepreneurial identities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-765
Number of pages21
JournalQualitative Market Research: An International Journal
Volume22
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • Gendered entrepreneurial Identity
  • Fetishism
  • Sexism
  • Barbie entrepreneur dolls

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