The purpose of this paper is to explore the links between “informal economies” and the concept of “resistance.” The author argues that the petty illegalities of the dominated and…
The purpose of this paper is to explore the links between “informal economies” and the concept of “resistance.” The author argues that the petty illegalities of the dominated and subaltern classes should be seen in their connections to the illegalism of the élites and the state. Within this framework, the informal economy is seen as both the outcome of a set of material conditions aiming at the subordinated inclusion of entire classes of citizens, and the mark of the willingness by these same subalterns to evade the bonds imposed on them by the legislations and the social hierarchies.
A review of the ethnographical and socio-economical literature on the issue of informality, accompanied by ex-post reflections on pertinent studies conducted in the past by the researcher.
Against the dominant public rhetoric, the informal economy is here seen as a particular space of enactment by the dominated and subalterns aimed at self-producing paradoxical forms of inclusion within social contexts characterized by barriers to access integration within mainstream society. It is argued that in consideration of the power relations that structure the “field,” researchers themselves become part of the struggle counterpoising individuals and institutions, and should thus make a choice among the clashing parties.
The paper draws on a vast body of literature that appears to go in the same direction. However, it radicalizes the instances proposed by previous authors and studies, and draws conclusions concerning the nature of the object and the ethics of research, that are opposed to the prevalent approaches to the subject.
This study explores the historical development of a deprived class in Messina, a Southern Italian city. By means of 85 in-depth interviews and the analysis of the most important…
This study explores the historical development of a deprived class in Messina, a Southern Italian city. By means of 85 in-depth interviews and the analysis of the most important phases of the reconstruction following a disastrous earthquake which took place in 1908, the authors investigate the forces that, over the course of a century, shaped the formation process of an “underclass” living in shanties and deprived project areas within the city. The authors’ hypothesis is that the “economy of disaster” and the “shock economy” are not a specific feature of the current period. On the contrary, the elements characterizing the contemporary disaster-related speculative processes were largely active at the very beginning of the past century. This chapter, then, explores the long-lasting social consequences of speculative approaches to the management of disasters, and reflects on the forms of resistance of subaltern populations to an organization of life that started in the aftermath of a remote earthquake, and still affects their living conditions and ways of reproduction.