A Critical Evaluation of Competing Conceptualizations of Informal Employment: Some Lessons from England

Review of Social Economy, Vol. 69, No. 2, pp. 211-237, 2010

Posted: 13 Dec 2015

See all articles by Colin Williams

Colin Williams

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

This paper evaluates critically the validity of the competing conceptualizations of informal employment that variously read such work as a leftover of a previous mode of production, a by-product of, alternative or complement to formal employment. Until now, the common tendency has been for commentators to universally privilege one conceptualization over the others. Reporting data collected through 861 face-to-face interviews in 11 deprived and affluent urban and rural English localities, the finding is that each conceptualization is a valid portrayal of particular types of informal employment, and that only by combining and using them all is it possible to achieve a finer-grained and comprehensive understanding of the complex and diverse nature of informal employment as a whole. The paper concludes by discussing the implications for both the way in which informal employment is conceptualized as well as how it is tackled by governments.

Keywords: shadow sector, cash-in-hand work, monetary exchange, underground economy, England

JEL Classification: H26, J46, J48, K34, K42, O17

Suggested Citation

Williams, Colin, A Critical Evaluation of Competing Conceptualizations of Informal Employment: Some Lessons from England (2010). Review of Social Economy, Vol. 69, No. 2, pp. 211-237, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2703029

Colin Williams (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - School of Management ( email )

15 Conduit Road
Sheffield, S10 1FL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/management/staff/williams/index

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