Informal opportunities and social divisions

David M. Smith

in On the margins of inclusion

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9781861346018
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302872 | DOI:
Informal opportunities and social divisions

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This chapter investigates the magnitude of paid informal work and estimates of its scale, which have remained relatively constant since the early 1980s, ranging from 6 percent to 8 percent of GDP, despite fundamental changes in the economy and labour market over this period. It notes that Harding and Jenkins point out that a lack of regulation has been the historical norm, and changes in institutional boundaries and regulations cause a corresponding realignment of formal/informal relationships. It also examines factors based in the local economic structure, and the internal factors based in the estate's social composition that sustain demand for informal labour, goods, and services. It points out that what matters is not how many people or firms participate in informal working practices, but how those practices operate on the fringes of, yet inseparable from, the wider economy. It also explores why the informal economy works for some and not for others, and how the responses of people to a series of wider economic changes and employment insecurity draw upon resources based in localised forms of knowledge and relationships.

Keywords: informal work; Harding; informal relationships; local economic structure; informal labour; informal economy; employment insecurity

Chapter.  9505 words. 

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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