In this introductory chapter to the Research Handbook on Development and the Informal Economy, the scientific editor of the Handbook outlines why revisiting the informal economy is timely: the widespread use of the concept in various contexts together with common misconceptions and misunderstandings, especially regarding the relation of the concept to illegality; the availability of measures and estimates for an increasing number of countries and for various periods of time; the moving frontiers of the concept; and finally the diversity of ad hoc policies on the agenda of a number of developing countries. The Handbook addresses the issues of definitions and methods of measurement, assesses the magnitude and trends of the phenomenon, and discusses the strategies and policies designed to tackle it. Informality is a flexible concept, and new frontiers of the concept have emerged that deserve more attention, in particular its extension to unpaid domestic and care work. The Handbook also deals with the dialectics of observation and action on three vulnerable groups of workers in the informal economy, from the most visible because working in the open sun yet also the least known – the street vendors – to the equally visible yet the least regarded – the waste pickers – and finally to the most invisible and equally ignored – the home-based workers. Concrete experiences across the developing world are mobilised to showcase the modalities of organising and giving voice and visibility to these informal workers at the bottom of the pyramid. Finally, the Handbook addresses issues such as the recognition of skills acquired in the informal sector, the role of apprenticeship, and innovation as a potential step towards bottom-up industrialisation or as a means for self-reliance in refugee economies. It also attempts to assess the impact of technological change on the alleviation of women’s burden of unpaid domestic and care work, or as a means for widening the benefits or loosening the clamps of the poor informal workers at the bottom of global supply chains, or also concerning the transformation of home-based piece workers into even more fragmented task- or click workers throughout the digitisation process. This research handbook does not pretend to cover all topics and issues related to the informal economy. The scientific editor’s decision has been to provide a wide and diversified range of approaches likely to make scholars and researchers aware of the issues to be tackled and the challenges at stake within this rather recent field of knowledge in economics and the social sciences at large. It offers historical, theoretical, political and practical entries into a still-burgeoning and debated field of research. It provides some indications or orientations towards domains that require more in-depth investigations, and it paves the way for an improvement of the living and working conditions of informal workers and a renewed discussion about the social contract between the ‘excluded’ and the state.
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Edited by Marc Pradel-Miquel, Ana B. Cano-Hila and Marisol García Cabeza
Rhonda Phillips, Eric Trevan and Patsy Kraeger
Fundamentally, research is the process of discovery and exploration – the outcomes of which range widely from increasing understanding and finding potential solutions to gathering information that may contribute to additional inquiry. Community development as a means of improving the places we live in is a pressing issue more than ever, and further discovery and exploration of it are very much needed. It is our intent to present this volume to spur ideas and innovations in community development. At its most basic, community development is simply about making things better for the people who live there (Musikanski et al., 2019). At its most complex, it is decidedly difficult to identify the most effective or desirable approach as needs, desires, conditions, external and internal influences and confounding factors and resources can vary widely between communities. Community represents agency and solidarity (Bhattacharyya, 1995), and it is critical to understand that community is not only a destination and location but can also include a common set of ideas and values (Trevan, 2016), which inform both research and practice for the co-creation of knowledge. By focusing on research approaches, techniques and applications, we aim to illustrate both the broad complexity of community development and its potential. We hope this will help foster greater understanding of how research contributes to scholarship and to practice, where we see the results of ideas in action.
James Midgley, Rebecca Surender and Laura Alfers
Katharyne Mitchell, Reece Jones and Jennifer L. Fluri
The chapter gives an overview of the topic and issues treated in the book. Three main arguments are presented. First, the dynamics of the refugee events of 2015 reflect the degree of globalization and transnationalization of social relations. In Syria as well as in Europe the global is becoming local and the local is becoming global. Transnational social relations are becoming more and more important. Second, since the 1990s a European refugee regime has been being developed, but its (nice) provisions for refugee protection almost collapsed in face of the organized non-responsibility of EU member states. Third, the networks of refugee- and asylum-oriented organizations and elements of a related transnational social movement compensated the ‘organized non-responsibility’ of national governments.