What is it about?

For much of the 20th century, the informal economy in advanced western nations was depicted as a leftover from an earlier mode of production and disappearing from view. In recent decades, however, with the recognition that it persists and is even growing, it has been variously re-read as a direct by-product of late capitalism, an alternative to formal work or a complement to the formal economy. To evaluate critically the validity of these rival representations of the relationship between formal and informal work in western economies and beyond, evidence from a study of 350 households in rural England is here reported.

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Why is it important?

The finding is that although each and every representation is wholly valid in relation to particular populations engaged in specific types of informal work, no one articulation fully captures the diverse and multiple meanings of the relationship between formal and informal work. Here, in consequence, it is contended that only by using all of them will a finer-grained and more comprehensive understanding of the complex and multifarious nature of the relationship between formal and informal work be achieved. The result is a more multi-layered and nuanced understanding of the diverse relationships between formal and informal work followed by a discussion of the implications of this re-reading of the informal economy for economic development and policy.

Perspectives

A multi-layered and nuanced understanding of the diverse relationships between formal and informal work in rural areas

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Re-Theorizing the Informal Economy in Western Nations: Some Lessons from Rural England~!2009-12-16~!2010-01-25~!2010-03-12~!, The Open Area Studies Journal, March 2010, Bentham Science Publishers, DOI: 10.2174/1874914301003010001.
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