Political economy of informalisation

As part of the Lunchtime Seminar Series, the African Centre for Migration & Society invites you to a seminar titled Political economy of informalisation by Zoran Slavnić (Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society, Linkoping University).

The concept of informal economy in Western economies is traditionally understood as denoting a sort of marginal, ‘separate’ economy, related to the survival strategies of marginal social groups, as distinct from the so-called formal economy that comprises mainly big companies as well as the state, which together with its institutions partly sets the rules and partly is itself an economic actor. Zoran’s seminar has an ambition to critically re-examine this actual concept of informal economy, and to highlight the permeability of the borderline between formal economy and informal economy. Informalisation of so-called advanced economies is, according to the argument that Zoran puts forward, closely related to the wider processes of ongoing neoliberal restructuring of Western economies on the one hand and to the parallel process of the recomposition of Western welfare states on the other. Two notions of informalization are proposed: informalization from above andinformalisation from below. Informalisation from above includes corporate strategies of downsizing, outsourcing and subcontracting, as well as the coping strategies of the welfare state, both of which contain dynamic forces ofinformalisation in economies and labour markets. Informalisation from below is constituted by a range of marginalised actors (low-income earners, small-business owners active in work-intensive and highly competitive markets, immigrants and irregular migrants), who share a common condition manifested in the lack of legal status and protection, extreme vulnerability and a dependence on informal engagements that generate their own idiosyncratic ‘political economy’.


Zoran Slavnić works as Associate Professor at REMESO (Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society), as well as a lecturer in the program for Social and Cultural Analysis (SKA), at Linköping University. Zoran’s scientific interest has been quite wide, encompassing ethnic and migration studies, sociology of higher education, Eastern European studies, sociological theory, economic sociology, philosophy of science, industrial relations, refugee studies, and tourism studies. However, the main focus of Zoran’s research has been on the political economy of international migration, which could be described as an integrated approach to studies of migration, economic restructuring, citizenship, and social welfare. Zoran’s actual research is related to the research project Immigrants’ legal status, integration and life course patterns in Sweden, which is financed by Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare. The project focuses on relationship between immigrants’ entry categories and legal status and their socioeconomic integration after obtaining the residence permits.

Date: Tuesday 9 April 2019

Time: 12.45 -13.45

Venue: ACMS Seminar Room 2163, South East Wing, Second Floor, Solomon Mahlangu House, University of the Witwatersrand East Campus