Friday, 18 May 2012

Work beyond employment: representations of informal economic activities

an article by Colin C Williams and Sara Nadin (University of Sheffield) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 26 Number 2 (April 2012)


For much of the previous century, the informal sector was largely represented as a residue of a previous mode of production confined to marginal populations and gradually disappearing due to the inevitable and natural shift towards the formal economy across the globe.

Over the past quarter of a century, however, articles published in Work, Employment and Society have been at the forefront of re-reading the informal sector.

This article reveals how this body of literature has shown informal economic activities to be a persistent and ubiquitous feature of the economic landscape, mapped the complex and variable dynamics of formal and informal work in different populations, transcended simplistic universal structure/agency explanations for the persistence of informal work by developing context-bound understandings, and challenged the formal/informal dichotomy which represents the formal and informal sectors as separate hostile worlds.

The article concludes by highlighting some possible future directions for research on this topic.

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