Informal Work in Developed Nations: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Informal Work in Developed Nations

1st Edition

Edited by Enrico Marcelli, Colin C. Williams, Pascale Joassart


240 pages

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Almost everyone residing in a developed nation knows someone who has engaged in paid work that is licit but not reported to the government (e.g., babysitting, gardening, construction, financial consulting). But while most acknowledge that such work is helpful to the individuals involved, and that informal work may enhance a sense of community, most scholars view it as a pre-modern form of exchange and something that disappears as capitalist markets expand globally. Both mainstream and heterodox economics typically assume that there is an inevitable shift towards the formalization of goods and services provisioning as societies become more "advanced" or "developed" (the "formalization thesis"). In these views, the existence of informal activities is a manifestation of backwardness and it is assumed that they will disappear as an economy becomes more "modern."

This book challenges these conventional theses about the linear trajectory of informal work and economic development by arguing that informal work is not trivial for understanding modern capitalist economies, and that both mainstream and heterodox theories about the economy must be altered to address the role of informal work in relatively developed economies.

This edited collection focuses on informal work in various developed nations, including Canada, the United States, and several in Europe. It will therefore be of interest to policymakers, as well as students and researchers in development studies, social policy, sociology, anthropology, public health, geography, economics and planning.

Enrico Marcelli is Assistant Professor of Sociology at San Diego State University, USA. Colin C. Williams is Professor of Public Policy at the University of Sheffield, UK. Pascale Joassart is Assistant Professor of Geography at San Diego State University, USA.


"Twelve papers seek to move toward a broader understanding of the nature of information work in developed economies by challenging market-centered readings with empirical evidence…" – Journal of Economic Literature (June 2010)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to an Institutional Economic Approach to informal Work in Developed Nations Enrico A. Marcelli, Colin C. Williams and Pascale M. Joassart Part I: Historical and Methodological Foundations 2. The Changing Conceptualization of Informal Work in Developed Economies Colin C. Williams 3. Measuring Informal Work in Developed Nations Pascale M. Joassart Part II: Informal Work in Europe 4. Informal Work in the Diverse Economies of ‘Post-Socialist’ Europe Adrian Smith 5. Informal Employment in the Work-Welfare Arrangement of Germany Birgit Pfau-Effinger and Slaydana Sacac-Magdalenic 6. Gender and Informal Work Jan Windebank and Colin C. Williams 7. Geographical Variations in Informal Work in Contemporary England Colin C. Williams 8. The Fallacy of the Formal and Informal Divide: Lessons from a Post-Fordist Regional Economy Simone Ghezzi Part III: Informal Work in North America 9. Day Laborers in New York’s Informal Economy Edwin Melendez, Nik Theodore and Abel Valenzuela, Jr. 10. Effects of Wage and Hour Law Enforcement on Informal Work Jordon Rickles and Paul M. Ong 11. Informal Work among Mexican Immigrants in Metropolitan Los Angeles Enrico A. Marcelli 12. Informal Work in Rural America: Theory and Evidence Tim Slack and Leif Jensen 13. Informal Work in Canada Bernard Fortin and Guy Lacroix 14. Conclusion Colin C. Williams and Enrico A. Marcelli

About the Editors


Colin C. Williams

Conduit Road, Sheffield, United Kingdom

Learn more about Colin C. Williams >>

Enrico Marcelli is Associate Professor of Sociology at San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA. Colin C. Williams is Professor of Public Policy at the University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. Pascale Joassart is Associate Professor of Geography at San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Heterodox Economics

Over the past two decades, the intellectual agendas of heterodox economists have taken a decidedly pluralist turn.  Leading thinkers have begun to move beyond the established paradigms of Austrian, feminist, Institutional-evolutionary, Marxian, Post Keynesian, radical, social, and Sraffian economics—opening up new lines of analysis, criticism, and dialogue among dissenting schools of thought.  This cross-fertilization of ideas is creating a new generation of scholarship in which novel combinations of heterodox ideas are being brought to bear on important contemporary and historical problems.

Routledge Advances in Heterodox Economics aims to promote this new scholarship by publishing innovative books in heterodox economic theory, policy, philosophy, intellectual history, institutional history, and pedagogy.  Syntheses or critical engagement of two or more heterodox traditions are especially encouraged.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Economic Conditions