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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Trust creation in the informal economy: the case of plastic bag sellers of Mwanza, Tanzania
Author:Burbidge, DominicISNI
Periodical:African Sociological Review (ISSN 1027-4332)
Geographic term:Tanzania
Subjects:market vendors
informal sector
social networks
External link:https://www.ajol.info/index.php/asr/article/view/99586
Abstract:In order to gather evidence on the interpersonal development of trusting-trustworthy relationships in Tanzania, this article focuses on a tiny political economy that exists in the private and informal sectors. It presents an embedded account of the social status and economic position of plastic bag sellers of Soko Kuu market in Mwanza to demonstrate the dilemmas of trust faced and the solutions found. Evidence is taken from interviews with boys and young men whose profession consists of the wholesale purchase and individual retail of different types of plastic bag in the main market of Mwanza. The reputation and standing of bag sellers is very low, which presents a tough challenge for maintaining networks of trust within their own professional group or when bridging trustful relations to other economic groups. Plastic bag sellers tend to be young and bearers of a reputation for thievery. At the same time, the fact that they achieve relatively high levels of profit in such an informal setting presents a puzzle as to how the trust needed for their economic activity has been secured. The phenomenon of trust anchor, defined as a common point of interaction where persons may signal willingness to cooperate, is identified as an explanation. The most important trust anchor for relationships between bag sellers themselves and between bag sellers and goods sellers of Soko Kuu is the giving out of small change. Trust anchors are the positive opposite to social dilemmas: opportunities for building relationships of trust, based on mutually understood vulnerability. For future social policy attempting to grapple with the informal economy, such zones of trust creation must be identified. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]