PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to examine three explanatory perspectives in the academic literature on informal economies that seek to account for agents’ engagement in informal economic practices.Design/methodology/approachThe paper draws on Pierre Bourdieu’s reflexive sociology to interrogate the existing perspectives and to provide a conceptual rethinking of informal economies and informal economic practices.FindingsThe paper reveals an inherent scholastic epistemocentrism in the established perspectives. By privileging either an objectivist or a subjectivist viewpoint, these accounts do not examine the practical knowledge and logic that constitute agents’ knowledgeable engagement in informal economic practices. By making use of Bourdieu’s thinking tools of “field”, “capital” and “the habitus”, the paper offers a conceptual rethinking of informal economic practices as the product of a dialectic relationship between socially objectivated structures and subjective representations and experiences.Originality/valueThe paper introduces a reflexive rethinking of informality that draws on but also develops an emergent literature on informal economic practices as relational and context bound.
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 4, 2017
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