Beyond Formalization: Rethinking the Future of Work
Foresight, 2007, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 20-41
12 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2007
Purpose – A long-standing meta-narrative regarding the future of work is that, over history, economic activity has shifted from the informal into the formal economy and that the informal economy is now a residue existing only in the margins. This paper aims to evaluate critically this formalization thesis so as to question whether the future of work is inevitably and immutably one of formalization.
Design/methodology/approach – Primary data are drawn upon from a study of the work practices of 600 households in Ukraine conducted during 2005/2006 to evaluate the centrality of the formal economy in this post-socialist society.
Findings – This study reveals only a relatively shallow permeation of formalization in this post-socialist society and how the informal economy is a core integral component of contemporary work organization relied on not only by some 28 per cent of households who, excluded from the formal economy, utilize this sphere as their principal livelihood practice but also by the vast majority immersed in the formal economy who heavily depend on informal work to secure their livelihood.
Research limitations/implications – This snapshot survey identifies only that the informal economy is not some minor residue as depicted by the formalization thesis. It cannot decipher whether there is movement in Ukraine towards greater reliance on the formal (or informal) economy.
Originality/value – This paper de-centers the formal economy by re-positioning it as just one of a plurality of work practices and foregrounds the informal economy as a core component of work organization in this post-socialist society.
Keywords: informal economy, binary hierarchy, dualism, future of work, Ukraine, economic development
JEL Classification: H26, J46, J48, K34, K42, O17, P2, P3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation