What is it about?

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.

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Why is it important?

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 epresents the formal and informal sectors as separate hostile worlds. The article concludes by highlighting some possible future directions for research on this topic.

Perspectives

A review of publications in Work, Employment & Society on the informal sector over the past quarter of a century

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Work beyond employment: representations of informal economic activities, Work Employment and Society, April 2012, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0950017012437006.
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