Blurring the Formal/Informal Economy Divide: Beyond a Dual Economies Approach
Journal of Economy and its Applications, Volume 2 Issue 1 (2012), Pages 85-103.
19 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2012
The need to integrate work beyond employment into discussions of labor practices is widely recognized. This has been so far largely achieved by adopting a dual economies perspective, which is criticized for depicting the formal and informal sectors as separate hostile worlds. To resolve this, an alternative “total social organization of labor” approach is here proposed that maintains the terms formal and informal as useful broad descriptors of different work relations, but recognizes a spectrum from purely formal to purely informal labor practices cross-cut by another spectrum from wholly monetized to wholly non-monetized labor practices. Reporting evidence from 861 face-to-face interviews in affluent and deprived urban and rural English localities, this conceptual lens is here used to transcend the dual economies representation by providing a more nuanced multi-layered representation of the multifarious labor practices that persist in these English localities along with an evaluation of how the prevalence, configuration and nature of labor practices vary socio-spatially. The outcome is a call to move beyond the simplistic dual economies depiction of formal and informal work and to recognize the plurality of labor practices in economies.
Keywords: informal economy, dual economies, informalization, household work, livelihoods, economic sociology
JEL Classification: E26, O18, R20, Z13, H26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation