What is it about?

Contrary to the view that the subsistence economy is some minor residue persisting in only a few peripheral enclaves of modern economies, the purpose of this paper is to begin to chart the importance and prevalence of subsistence work across the contemporary economic landscape and the reasons underpinning engagement in this form of non-commodified labour.

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Why is it important?

It was found that subsistence work is a ubiquitous phenomenon which is relied on heavily by Muscovite households. Until now, those participating in such subsistence work have been portrayed either as rational economic actors, dupes, seekers of self-identity, or simply doing so out of necessity or choice. Rather than depict one as correct and the others as invalid, this survey inductively generates a theoretically-integrative approach which differentiates between “willing” (rational economic actors, choice, identity seeking) and “reluctant” (economic and market necessity, dupes) participants in subsistence production.


This is one of the first papers to identify and explain the ubiquitous persistence of subsistence work in contemporary economies.

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Evaluating the persistence of subsistence work in contemporary economies, International Journal of Social Economics, July 2012, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/03068291211245736.
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