The Informal Post-Socialist Economy: Embedded Practices and Livelihoods

The Informal Post-Socialist Economy: Embedded Practices and Livelihoods


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From smugglers to entrepreneurs, blue-collar workers and taxi drivers, this book deals with the multitude of characters engaged in informal economic practices in the former socialist regions. Going beyond a conception of informality as opposed to the formal sector, its authors demonstrate the fluid nature of informal transactions straddling the crossroads between illegal, illicit, socially acceptable and symbolically meaningful practices. Their argument is informed by a wide range of case studies, from Central Europe to the Baltics and Central Asia, each of which is constructed around a single informant. Each chapter narrates the story of a composite person or household that was carefully selected or constructed by an author with long-standing ethnographic research experience in the given field site.

Wide in geographical, empirical and theoretical scope,
the book uses ethnographic narrative accounts of everyday life to make links between 'ordinary' meanings of informality. Challenging reductively economistic perspectives on cross-border trading, undeclared work and other informal activities, the authors illustrate the wide variety of interpretive meanings that people ascribe to such practices. Alongside 'getting by' and 'getting ahead' in recently marketised societies, these meanings relate to sociality, kinship-ties and solidarity, along with more surprising 'political' and moral reasonings.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780415854917
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 12/21/2013
Series: Routledge Contemporary Russia and Eastern Europe Series
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jeremy Morris teaches at the University of Birmingham, UK

Abel Polese is a research fellow at the Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction of Dublin City University and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Political Science and Governance of Tallinn University.

Table of Contents

Foreword Catherine Wanner Introduction: Informality – Enduring Practices, Entwined Livelihoods Jeremy Morris and Abel Polese Part 1: ‘Entrepreneurial’ Informality? Self- and Off-the-books Employment 1. The Diverse Livelihood Practices of Health-care Workers in Ukraine: the Case of Sasha and Natasha Colin C Williams and Olga Onoschenko 2. The Story of Šarūnas: an Invisible Citizen of Lithuania Ida Harboe Knudsen 3. Moonlighting Strangers Met on the Way: the Nexus of Informality and Blue-collar Sociality in Russia Jeremy Morris 4. Nannies and Informality in Romanian Local Childcare Markets Borbála Kovács 5. Drinking with Vova: An Individual Entrepreneur between Illegality and Informality Abel Polese 6. When is an Illicit Taxi Driver More than a Taxi Driver? Case Studies from Transit and Trucking in Post-socialist Slovakia David Karjanen Part 2: At Home Abroad? Transnational Informality and the Invisible Flows of People and Goods 7. From Shuttle Trader to Businesswomen: the Informal Bazaar Economy in Kyrgyzstan Anna Cieślewska 8. ‘Business as Casual’: Shuttle Trade on the Belarus-Lithuania Border Olga Sasunkevich 9. ‘The Glove Compartment Half-full of Letters’ – Informality & Cross-border Trade at the Edge of the Schengen Area Kristine Müller and Judith Miggelbrink 10. Informal Economy Writ Large and Small: From Azerbaijani Herb Traders to Moscow Shop Owners Lale Yalçın-Heckmann

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