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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

Abel Polese and Peter Rodgers

This paper represents an editorial for this special issue on “Surviving post‐socialism”, with a particular geographical focus on countries located in the former Soviet…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper represents an editorial for this special issue on “Surviving post‐socialism”, with a particular geographical focus on countries located in the former Soviet Union (FSU) and in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). In total, six articles are included in this special issue, which seeks to contribute to the existing body of literature on surviving post‐socialism in general and in particular, across all the papers included, paying particular attention to the role of informal economic relations and practices, as fundamental parts of wider economic relations across the FSU and CEE regions. Whilst the papers included in this special issue demonstrate the richness of empirical data which can be generated, also they demonstrate how authors, located in different academic traditions – sociology, political economy and anthropology – can clearly contribute to debates regarding the role of informal economic relations in a number of theoretical and conceptual ways.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper attempts to synthesise the main contributions of the six papers within the special issue and in particular seeks to engage with core questions relating to how the empirical findings in these papers contribute to relevant wider theoretical and conceptual debates.

Findings

This paper finds that there is a high degree of linkages between the six papers, in particular relating to the issue of the intermeshing of formal and informal economic spheres.

Originality/value

The value of this paper is that it provides an introduction, overview and clear and concise summary of the remaining six papers in this special issue on “Surviving post‐socialism”, outlining the special issue's core aims and contributions.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 31 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

Johan Rasanayagam

In the Soviet Union, the official command structure for economic production and distribution gave rise to, and depended upon, what has been described as a “shadow”…

Abstract

Purpose

In the Soviet Union, the official command structure for economic production and distribution gave rise to, and depended upon, what has been described as a “shadow” economy. In the post‐socialist context, the unregulated, often extra‐legal activities of production and exchange, encompassing the survival strategies of the poor, the emergence of post‐socialist “Mafias”, and much entrepreneurial activity, has been described using the concept of the “informal economy”.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on long‐term participatory research over a period of three years.

Findings

The paper argues that what we might think of as informal economic activity in Uzbekistan cannot be understood in relation to a formal economy, but is rather an expression of a more general informalisation of lifeworlds following the end of the Soviet Union. Unlike the situation in the Soviet Union, the informal does not emerge from and exist in relation to formal political and economic structures. The state itself is experienced in personalised terms, as a “Mafia”, and the informal is all that there is.

Originality/value

This article provides an original perspective on the informal economy and informalised lifeworlds in Uzbekistan.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 31 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

Kathryn Cassidy

The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenge of interpreting the growth in arbitrage opportunities at the Ukrainian‐Romanian border within a rural Ukrainian…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenge of interpreting the growth in arbitrage opportunities at the Ukrainian‐Romanian border within a rural Ukrainian border community. The author illustrates that whilst the proliferation of economic activity through the border has provided a boost to the local economy, it has also led to the development of discursive performance around these practices within rural Ukrainian communities, which both mitigates the potentially negative impacts of economic growth in Romania and also reflects emerging views of consumption as a cultural competence.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on more than 18 months of participant observation in three rural communities on either side of the Ukrainian‐Romanian border between September 2007 and May 2010.

Findings

The discursive performance of consumption has emerged as an important means for the production of values amongst the low income households of Diyalivtsi (pseudonym). As part of this performance, the villagers of Diyalivtsi differentiate themselves from their Romanian neighbours through critical analysis of Romanian consumption practices, which are viewed through the prism of cross‐border economies.

Originality/value

This is one of the first papers to consider how the diverse economies of post‐socialism are (re)performed in the communities in which they have become embedded. Rather than seeking to theorise or quantify cross‐border economies and the practices of trading and consumption, it illuminates the social aspects of them for rural Ukrainian communities.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 31 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

Natalia Vershinina and Yulia Rodionova

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the issues in studying hidden populations, with particular focus on methodology used to investigate ethnic minority entrepreneurs…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the issues in studying hidden populations, with particular focus on methodology used to investigate ethnic minority entrepreneurs who illegally run their businesses in the UK. In this paper, on reflection, the authors look at what issues should be considered before engaging with such communities, as we identify current approaches and evaluate their merits.

Design/methodology/approach

Certain methodological problems are faced by researchers working with hidden populations, and this paper explores these using a sample of Ukrainian illegal self‐employed construction workers operating in London. Semi‐structured interviews with 20 Ukrainians showcase the issues raised and help illustrate the limited applicability of some commonly used research methods to ethnic minority entrepreneurship studies. The authors used an intermediary to help gain access to these illegal migrants in order to satisfy the sensitive issues of this vulnerable group of respondents.

Findings

The authors analyse the ethical considerations, problems and issues with access to such data, discuss early and more recent sampling methodologies and the ways to estimate the size of hidden population. This paper, hence, establishes the state‐of‐the‐art approaches in this field and proposes potential improvements in achieving representativeness of the data. Using the Ukrainian illegal self‐employed construction workers as an example, this paper evaluates the choices made by the researchers.

Originality/value

The main contribution of this paper is to showcase the methodological issues emerging when studying hard‐to‐reach groups and to emphasise the limited applicability of some methods to research on hidden populations.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 31 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

Jeremy Morris

The purpose of this paper is to explore an important nexus of formal/informal economic activity in Russia: “normative” workers (in waged formal employment) by virtue of a…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore an important nexus of formal/informal economic activity in Russia: “normative” workers (in waged formal employment) by virtue of a strongly embedded work‐related social identity and characterized by a significant number of weak social ties, move with little “effort” between formal and informal work.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents extensive ethnographic data from the Russian provinces on workers and diverse economic practices. It utilizes participant observation and semi‐structured interviews from periods of fieldwork over the course of a year (2009‐2010).

Findings

This study traces the theoretical debates on the informal economy from 1989 to 2008 and argues for a substantivist position on household reproduction that focuses on the interdependence of social networks, employment, class‐identity and (informal) work. The findings demonstrate significant performative and spatial aspects of embedded worker identity, including the workspace itself as a contested domain, that facilitate movement between formal‐informal work.

Originality/value

The originality of the paper resides in its ethnographic approach to informal economies under post‐socialism and the substantivist evaluation of diverse economic practices in Russia as supported by formal work‐based shared identities.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 31 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

Bettina Bruns, Judith Miggelbrink and Kristine Müller

Using small‐scale cross‐border trade and smuggling as an example of an informal practice carried out in many post‐socialist countries, the purpose of this paper is to…

Abstract

Purpose

Using small‐scale cross‐border trade and smuggling as an example of an informal practice carried out in many post‐socialist countries, the purpose of this paper is to explore which different meanings this activity possesses for the people being involved in it and in how far small‐scale cross‐border trade is being accepted and looked at by society. The authors hope to show the different connections between informal and formal activities and specificities of localities which people in the mentioned countries deploy when trying to secure their livelihood.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors used a qualitative empirical research including group discussions with small‐scale traders and small entrepreneurs, expert interviews with representatives of the border authorities and systematic observations at border crossing points and open‐air markets at the Finnish‐Russian, Polish‐Ukrainian, Polish‐Belarusian and Ukrainina‐Romanian borders.

Findings

The paper provides empirical insights about why people carry out smuggling and small‐scale trade and how these informal activities are perceived in the local environment. It suggests that informal economic cross‐border activities are often highly legitimized despite their illegal character. The border creates certain extra opportunities as it enables arbitrage dealings. Rather as a side effect though, the Schengen visa regime has evoked a decreasing profit margin of transborder economic activities. Therefore, it remains unclear whether the Eastern external EU border will serve as an informal economic resource in the future.

Originality/value

Thanks to a multisited qualitative approach to a very sensitive research topic, the paper allows empirical insights into meanings and uses of smuggling and cross‐border small‐scale trade.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 31 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

David Karjanen

The purpose of this paper is to explore the linkages between formal/informal and licit/illicit flows of goods in the post‐socialist economy in order to better understand…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the linkages between formal/informal and licit/illicit flows of goods in the post‐socialist economy in order to better understand and provide an analysis of both sides of these economic practices.

Design/methodology/approach

Research over 20 months in Slovakia, between 2000 and 2007, included surveys of retailers of goods, households and firms who buy and sell contraband, and ethnographic research with truckers, consumers, and sellers of contraband. This study also included a novel research method – a microeconomic commodity supply chain analysis, providing a new means to understand the circulation of illicit goods.

Findings

This paper has important findings for the movement of illicit goods in Slovakia and more broadly. Tracing the movement of two goods: cigarettes and clothing, demonstrates that the current theories of informal and illicit flows are inadequate theoretically or to develop proper policies. Both the formal and informal, as well as licit and illicit, flows and production of goods are interwoven through economic practice.

Originality/value

Little research exists specifically tracking the movement of illicit goods and analyzing their economic role in social and economic practices regarding informal economic activity. The results of this study show how the production, distribution, and consumption of illicit goods are integral to the economic transformation of the post‐socialist economy from the household and firm level, and in such practices encourage marketization and capitalist development.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 31 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 17 July 2017

Reinaldo Belickas Manzini and Luiz Carlos Di Serio

This paper offers an approach for outlining the main dimensions surrounding clusters in three areas of knowledge: economic geography, strategic management and operations…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper offers an approach for outlining the main dimensions surrounding clusters in three areas of knowledge: economic geography, strategic management and operations management, the first being considered its natural field of knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach

The work was developed using the citation analysis technique as applied to a database of 627 articles and 22,980 citations, taken from 15 important journals in the areas selected.

Findings

The results proved that the theoretical and conceptual bases are unique to each of the areas studied and that they have few topics in common between them. They are complementary, however, and this facilitates their reconciliation.

Research limitations/implications

The sample base, despite considering fairly influential periodicals in the areas of knowledge selected, can be considered to be a limitation.

Originality/value

Common themes and different areas of knowledge surrounding the cluster concept were identified; despite being considered “common”, a more detailed examination of their content reveals very different, but certainly complementary emphases, which makes it possible to reconcile the areas of knowledge.

Details

Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1059-5422

Keywords

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