Beyond Negative Depictions of Informal Employment: Some Lessons from Moscow

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Urban Studies (Impact Factor: 1.28). 11/2007; 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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Available from: Colin C Williams, Aug 19, 2015
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    • "'Informal' working, when depicted by such tasks, was integral to the system. Informal working, as Williams and Round (2007: 2326) suggest, thus may be considered as a 'core means of livelihood for a significant proportion of households' that has since been carried over into the new order. Rather than being discouraged by a state's entry into the world economy, the legacies of past practices of informal working are encouraged to expand. "
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    • "Although studies have been conducted on participation in undeclared work in Baltic countries (e.g. Arnstberg 2003; Borén 2003; Hansson 1989; Henckel et al. 2008; Langfeldt 1989; Pavlovskaya 2004; Persson & Malmer 2006; Salmi 2003; Sedlenieks 2003; Surdej 2005; Williams & Round 2007), most tend to be qualitative rather than extensive cross-national surveys. As a result, these one-off small-scale studies do not provide an overview of the extent, distribution and nature of undeclared work in the Baltic region. "
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    • "Reviewing the voluminous definitions of what is variously called the 'underground', 'cash-in-hand', 'undeclared', 'black', 'informal', 'hidden' or 'shadow' economy/sector/work, near enough all define this off-the-books economy in terms of what is absent from or insufficient about it relative to the declared economy (e.g. Thomas, 1992; Portes, 1994; European Commission, 1998, 2007; Williams and Windebank, 1998; Marcelli, Pastor and Joassart, 1999; Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2000a,b, 2002; Renooy et al., 2004; Evans, Syrett and Williams, 2006; Katungi, Neale and Barbour, 2006; Williams and Round, 2007, 2008). Reviewing these definitions, a strong consensus exists over what is absent or missing. "
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