What is it about?

This paper aims to evaluate critically the rival representations of the role of the informal economy which is variously portrayed as a leftover from an earlier mode of production, a direct by-product of late capitalism, an alternative to the formal economy or a complement to formal work.

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Why is it important?

Reporting evidence from a survey of 500 participants in Gambia, the finding is that although each and every representation of its role is valid in relation to particular populations and/or specific types of informal work, no one representation fully captures the diverse and multiple roles played by the informal economy in contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa.


The consequent argument is that only by using all of them can a finer-grained and more comprehensive understanding of the multifarious roles of the informal economy be achieved. The outcome is a more multilayered and nuanced understanding of the role played by the informal economy in contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Re-theorising the role of the informal economy in Sub-Saharan Africa: some lessons from Gambia, International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, January 2016, Inderscience Publishers, DOI: 10.1504/ijesb.2016.076641.
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