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It takes (more than) two to tango: informal tango market dynamics in Barcelona

Wafa Khlif (Toulouse Business School, Toulouse University, Barcelona Campus, Barcelona, Spain)
Joanna Pousset (Toulouse Business School, Toulouse University, Barcelona Campus, Barcelona, Spain)

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Article publication date: 4 February 2014




This paper aims to address the tango market as a social institution by building on the notion of “globalization from below” as well as social capital theory to understand the market's dynamics as a part of the Barcelona grey economy and as one that supports immigration settlement and integration.


The authors began with participant observation that helped the authors to capture the essence of the market, to observe the behaviours of the participants and then to interview different actors. For more than a year (October 2011-December 2012), the authors frequented various tango dancing floors and also attended different tango classes. The authors concentrated the interviews during the first quarter of 2013 (January-March). The authors conducted 15 recorded interviews with distinct categories of supplier to the tango market.


The authors demonstrate how the resulting social exclusion is the raison d'être of globalization from below, through a cross-cultural symbiotic relationship. Moreover, the authors examine the causes of informal market relations and their impact on the nature of interactions among market participants.


The tango in Barcelona is made up of a series of individual exchanges and transactions that create a functioning and ordered system. Economically speaking, it can be assumed as an emergent market. But this market is deeply embedded in a social and political context making it a social institution constructed in culturally specific ways. The local socio-political context opens the door to corruption, although not necessarily to breaking the law, allowing the market agents to remain within the system and “dance” with it. Their disobedience to the rule creates disorder but allows them to recreate a specific order.



Khlif, W. and Pousset, J. (2014), "It takes (more than) two to tango: informal tango market dynamics in Barcelona", Society and Business Review, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 36-50.



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