American Copreneurs

The Who, Where, and Why of Couple-Operated Business Ventures American Copreneurs: The Who, Where, and Why of Couple-Operated Business Ventures Nicole M. King Perhaps nowhere in literature is the idea of a home-based economy more evident than in the works of Kentucky agrarian writer Wendell Berry. In the fictional lives of the members of the community of Port William, couples work together, side-by-side, raise children together, operate the home and farm, and otherwise move easily between the two “worlds” of work and love with nary a thought to the process. There is sexual differentiation, to be sure—the women tend to the children, mind the house, gather the eggs, etc., while the men perform the harder physical labor associated with the farm. But there is no “sexual division”—a concept Berry says emerged about the time of the industrial revolution, when “nurture is made the exclusive concern of women.”[1] Berry does, however, note in at least one place in his fiction what happens when this home economy splinters. In the novel Hannah Coulter, the title character, Hannah, notes that all three of her children have left the way of Port William, the way of the home economy. Two are divorced. Hannah’s daughter, Margaret, and her former husband “were working in different places, going off every morning in opposite directions. They worked apart, worked with different people, made friends with different people.”[2] Is it any wonder, Hannah seems to think, that their marriage didn’t work? The Family-Owned Business Historically, of course, homes were much closer to something like we see in Berry’s fiction and far less like the modern parking places and hotel rooms they have become. Women and men worked side-by-side, both to produce the things that the home itself needed to operate, and to bring in the income that the home used to purchase things that couldn’t be made. In an early issue of this journal, Nancy Pearcey writes, Co
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