Re-Theorizing the Nature of Informal Employment: Some Lessons from Ukraine
International Sociology, May 2008, Vol. 23(3): 367-388
22 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2013
Date Written: 2008
This paper evaluates critically the contrasting theories of informal employment that variously read this sector as a leftover of pre-capitalism, a by-product of a new emergent form of capitalism, a complement to formal employment or an alternative to the formal economy. Until now, a common tendency has been to either universally privilege one theorization over the others, or to depict each as appropriate in different regions of the world. Reporting data collected through face-to-face interviews with 600 households in Ukraine, however, the finding is that each theory is valid when analyzing particular types of informal employment in this country, and that only by combining them will a finer-grained and more comprehensive understanding of the complex and diverse nature of informal employment be achieved. The paper concludes by outlining a way of synthesizing these theorizations in order to develop a more multi-layered and nuanced understanding of informal employment.
Keywords: informal employment, shadow economy, undeclared work, informal economy, informal sector, cash-in-hand work, underground economy, Ukraine, Eastern European, economic development, post-socialist societies
JEL Classification: O17, H26, H31, K42
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