While early works on informality mostly explored its economic aspects (shadow economies, informal sector), recent studies have unveiled the multi-faceted nature of informality. From ways to get things done at the top political level (Ledeneva 2013) to everyday resistance (Scott 1985, 2012), informality has been regarded as an integral part of governance structures and mechanisms (Polese et al. 2017). For this workshop, we give continuity to the classification of the four "flavours of informality" (Polese 2019) to regard informal practices as an act of deliberate, if unorganised, non-compliance with formal instructions. At the everyday level, these actions may remain isolated and sterile. However, once they are embraced regularly by a significant portion of a given population they may come to renegotiate, or even reject, policy measures that are regarded, consciously or unconsciously, as inappropriate for a given situation context.
Footing on these assumptions, with this event, we propose to shift attention away from informality perceived, especially at the everyday level, as a mere survival strategy to think in a different direction. When people produce similar, or even the same, patterns of behaviour, informality can acquire political significance and reshape the way policies are implemented in a given context.
Starting from the above assumptions, our workshop has a three-fold goal.
First, it will expand the scope of theoretical research on informality beyond its economic understanding at the national level, something pointed out by studies by Dixit (2007), Helmke and Levitsky (2005) and Stone (2010) as necessary, but not yet systematically studied. We will look at the role of informal practices in the redefinition and renegotiation of business environments and how entrance and exit barriers are created, causing the reversal that state-led measures were intended to bring about.
Second, it will apply this interpretative framework to look at the way policy making, and development policies, are affected by informality in the transitional world. This will eventually allow us to engage with worldwide debates from a comparative perspective. Our departure point is the post-socialist region, where informality has been widely studied. However, with this workshop, we intend to upscale the scope of our inquiry to Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America.
Third, inasmuch as this has been timidly attempted so far, our event represents a chance to establish and develop a research group on informality that can work on further conceptualizations of the relationship between informality, policy-making and development at a global scale. We anticipate some of the contributions to be invited into an edited volume (we have a preliminary agreement with Routledge). In addition, should we have enough papers with a profound theoretical engagement, we will consider pulling together a special issue of a journal
As a result, we welcome contributions focusing on the following list of topics:
1) Measuring informality: novel and mixed methods for the measurement of informal practices, their effects and the rationale behind the desire (active or passive) to engage with informal practices in different contexts and with different ends
2) Informality and policymaking: studies on the relationship between the formal and the informal; how informal practices affect policymaking at the top level (negotiations of laws and rules, power relations between parties, groups, economic actors); how individuals, groups and non-state actors react, oppose, renegotiate policy measures at the everyday level
3) Informality and international development: explorations on the role of informal practices in a North-South development context; how instructions by international and development organizations are filtered, renegotiated or opposed when going against the interests of powerful individuals, interest groups, lobbies; how individuals (especially the weak, the marginalized, the poor) react to measures that they do not perceive as necessary, useful or beneficial
Given our initial specialization, our starting point has been the post-socialist world. However, we would like to use this workshop to expand the upscale the scope of our inquiry to a global scale in an attempt to construct comparisons with other world countries and regions.
- You will be notified by the 1st of June 2019 on whether your abstract has been accepted. Please note that the dates might slightly change (1-2 days later) but we will send the final dates along with the acceptance letter
- Meals and accommodation during the workshop is covered for all accepted speakers
- There is limited availability of funds to cover travel to and from Lund. If you expect to be unable to get support from your institution, please add this information in your abstract
How to apply
If interested, please send by the 15th of May 2019 in a single word document named after your surname containing:
1) An abstract and your contact details (300 words)
2) A short biographical statement (300 words)
3) if you need financial support for your travel