The Informal Economy and Post-Socialism: Imbricated Perspectives on Labor, the State, and Social Embeddedness
- Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization
- Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University
- Volume 27, Number 1, Winter 2019
- pp. 9-30
- Additional Information
This article argues for moving beyond existing conceptualizations of the "informal economy" that construe informality as a distinct phenomenon with more or less clearly defined borders. Instead, it proposes an "imbricated" perspective where informality and informal economic practices closely relate to other forms of informal organization within networks and political and civic structures. Specifically, the article addresses the issue of how to conceptualize and justify such broader understanding of informality. To do so, it develops three interrelated meanings of "imbrication"—relating to labor and economic activities; the "deregulation" or fuzziness of state practices and bureaucratic rule-making; and the complexity of economic and social reasonings by agents themselves—to explain action. In each case, I offer brief empirical examples from my field research in provincial Russia.