For most of the twentieth century, modernity has been characterised by the formalisation of social relations as face to face interactions are replaced by impersonal bureaucracy and finance. As we enter the new millennium, however, it becomes increasingly clear that it is only by stepping outside these formal structures that trust and co-operation can be created and social change achieved. In a brilliant theoretical tour de force, illustrated with sustained case studies of changing societies in the former eastern Europe and of changing forms of interaction within so-called virtual communities, Barbara Misztal, argues that only the society that achieves an appropriate balance between the informality and formality of interaction will find itself in a position to move forward to further democratisation and an improved quality of life.
Table of Contents
Introduction: What is informality? Part 1. Informality and its Assets 1. Defining Informality 2. The growing formlessness and unpredictability of social life 3. Informality and styles of interaction Part 2. Revealing the insignificance of informality 4. Explaining cooperation 5. Making music together 6. The dynamics of innovation Part 3. Informality in the changing world 7. Technology and informality 8. Political change and informality Conclusion: informality and democracy