Precarious entrepreneurs: mobile phones, work and kinship in neoliberal Peru
Astrid Stensrud discusses modes of precarity the mobile phone businesses created in the street economy of the Peruvian city of Cusco
In the first decade of the 21st century, a new niche opened up in the street economy of Cusco, a city in the Southern Peruvian Andes: the sale of calls between mobile phones. This article shows that the neoliberal policies of deregulation that enabled the mobile phone call business have also produced new regulatory spaces that small-scale entrepreneurs have to manage in their relationships to the authorities. Through the story of a family business, Stensrud discusses the relationships between precariousness, informality, uncertainty and ambiguity, and focuses on the tensions that arise in kinship relationships that are affective and supportive, yet also exploitative. The main argument is that there are different modes of precarity, and that kinship, which mostly has been thought of as security in an uncertain world, in fact can exacerbate a precarious condition.