What is it about?

This paper evaluates critically the validity of rival theorisations of the hidden economy that variously read this sector as a leftover from some previous era, a by-product of a new emergent form of capitalism, a complement to formal employment or an alternative to the formal economy. Until now, the common tendency has been to either universally privilege one theorisation over others, or to represent each theory as valid in different places.

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Why is it important?

The finding is that each theory is valid when depicting particular types of hidden work in this global city, and that only by combining all these theories can a finer-grained and more comprehensive understanding of the complex and diverse nature of the hidden economy be achieved. How these theories can be synthesised in order to develop a multi-layered understanding of the hidden economy is then outlined.


Re-theorises the hidden economy as a sphere composed of heterogeneous types of work.

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Beyond competing theories of the hidden economy, Journal of Economic Studies, May 2011, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/01443581111128406.
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