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Palgrave Macmillan

The Informal Economy in Global Perspective

Varieties of Governance

  • Book
  • © 2017


  • Provides a novel, global perspective on governance and development
  • Based on detailed empirical studies of more than ten countries worldwide
  • Bridges disciplines to foster a significant debate on formal and informal economies

Part of the book series: International Political Economy Series (IPES)

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Table of contents (16 chapters)


About this book

This book critically engages with how formal and informal mechanisms of governance are used across the world. Specifically, it analyzes how the governance mechanisms of formal institutions are questioned, challenged and renegotiated through informal institutions. Whilst there is an emerging body of scholarship focusing on informal practices, this is scattered across a number of disciplines. This edited collection, by contrast, fosters a dialogue on these issues, moving away from monodisciplinary and normative methodologies that view informal institutions and practices simply as temporary economic phenomena. In doing so, the authors provide a wider understanding of how governance is composed of both the formal and the informal, which complement each other but are also constantly in competition. This novel approach will appeal to social scientists, economists, policy-makers, practitioners, and anyone else willing to widen their understanding of how governance works.


“The book provides a sound and thorough overview of the complexity of the concept of informal economy, accounting for a high degree of variety in the theories and methodologies adopted, as well as in the countries under consideration. It also shows how economic informality can be a core component of an economic system, often associated to low productivity and erratic revenues, but not necessarily to backwardness.” (Clara Capelli, Interdisciplinary Political Studies, Vol. 4 (2), 2018)

“Drawing from a wide range of theoretical approaches this very welcome volume offers an accessible synthesis of contemporary scholarship on informal practices. The book covers a fascinating range of case studies, from EU member states to Asian economic giants and pygmies, along with diverse examples from Africa. The authors also provide insightful investigations that highlight the theoretical and methodological dilemmas encountered in the study of informal economies. This unrivalled depth of analysis combined with the impressive breath of cases makes this book required reading for scholars of this rapidly expanding field of inquiry.” (Donnacha Ó Beacháin, Dublin City University, Ireland)

“This volume is possibly the first attempt to provide a global view on informality. Going beyond the concept of informality as a mere economic phenomenon, the editors push for a broader interpretation of informality that takes into account power and social relations between actors across theglobe. In addition, the variety of chapters and approaches provide the reader with a broad overview on how informality can be noticed, captured and explored from a number of disciplines and using diverse methods.” (Viktor Stepanenko, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Ukraine)

 “This edited volume provides a long-awaited reflection on informality. Solidly grounded in theory while dealing with contemporary contested issues, it provides a comprehensive portrait of informality in a globalised world. Featuring contributions from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America, and gathering authors with a variety of topical foci and methodologies, the book provocatively shows how informality is present virtually everywhere and how, despite following different paths, it departs from a common matrix. A must read for all scholars interested in broadening their understanding of informal dynamics.” (Marcello Mollica, University of Pisa)

 “This book is a serious attempt to bring forward informality into the formal discourses of economy and governance. It is comprehensive in terms of methodological rigour, theoretical exposition and empirical illustrations. The editors deserve kudos and deep appreciation for gathering a terrific group of scholars working on informality from across the world. This is an indispensable book for those working on formal or informal sectors of governance and economy. It has very useful insights for policy-makers too.” (Rajan Kumar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Dublin City University, School of Law and Government, Dublin, Ireland

    Abel Polese

  • University of Sheffield, Management School, Sheffield, United Kingdom

    Colin C. Williams

  • Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Iași, Romania

    Ioana A. Horodnic

  • Institute of Public Finance, Zagreb, Croatia

    Predrag Bejakovic

About the editors

Abel Polese is Senior Researcher at Tallinn University and Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia.

Colin C. Williams is Professor of Public Policy at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Ioana A. Horodnic is Assistant Professor at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași, Romania.

Predrag Bejakovic is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Public Finance, Croatia.

Bibliographic Information

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