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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Political Economy of Informal Economies
Author:Lemarchand, RenéISNI
Year:1991
Periodical:Africa Insight
Volume:21
Issue:4
Pages:214-221
Language:English
Geographic terms:Subsaharan Africa
Africa
Subjects:informal sector
Economics and Trade
Politics and Government
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Abstract:Between State and market lies the shadowy space of the informal economy. Because its boundaries are ill-defined, rational-choice theorists and proponents of the economy of affection have staked out conflicting games to this contested terrain. While the former tend to view the informal economy as a rational response to declining market incentives, the latter insist that it is embedded in the normative dispositions of African societies. Each school of thought holds very different implications for policymakers. Rational-choice theorists see the introduction of appropriate market incentives as the quickest way to reduce the scope of the informal sectors and therefore as the first step towards the restructuring of African economies; devotees of the economy of affection, by contrast, would argue for strategies aimed at effectively tapping the potential for cooperation inherent in traditional modes of production. Rethinking some of the postulates underlying each school of thought, the present author suggests new perspectives from which to analyse the nature and operation of informal economies. After a description of some aspects of informal economies (their cultural underpinnings, their relation with clientelism) the article turns to the dynamics of State-society interactions. Examples from Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Uganda, Zaire, and Côte d'Ivoire demonstrate that patterns of State-society interactions vary considerably. Ref.
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