Beyond Negative Depictions of Informal Employment: Some Lessons from Moscow

Urban Studies (Impact Factor: 1.28). 01/2007; 44(12):2321-2338. DOI: 10.1080/00420980701540945

ABSTRACT Informal employment is conventionally viewed as residual, marginal and sweatshop-like work that impairs urban economic development and social cohesion. Reporting data from 313 interviews conducted with Moscow households during 2005/06, this negative reading is found to apply to just one segment of the informal labour market in this post-socialist city— namely, informal waged employment. Examining the multiple types of informal employment conducted on an own-account basis, more positive impacts emerge of this sphere as the key seedbed for enterprise development and principal mechanism for delivering community self-help. The outcome is a call for a finer-grained understanding and more nuanced policy approach towards informal employment that recognises its plurality of forms and their varying consequences for economic development and social cohesion.

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    ABSTRACT: Abstract This paper re-evaluates the explanations for informal work in third world cities. Until now, informal work has been theorized either as a residue (modernisation), by-product of contemporary capitalism conducted out of economic necessity (structuralism) or an alternative to formal work chosen due to either an over- burdensome state (neo-liberalism) or for social, redistributive, resistance or identity reasons (post-structuralism). Reporting a study of 80 households in Koforidua in Ghana, this paper finds that although its depiction as a residue is not valid, the other representa- tions of the informal economy are each valid in relation to different types of informal work and varying populations in this third world city, and that only by combining them will a finer-grained and more comprehensive understanding of the diverse nature of the informal economy be achieved. The outcome is a call for more nuanced explanations of the informal economy in other contexts. Keywords Informaleconomy.Livelihoodpractices.Urbandevelopment.Economic development . Ghana
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