Structures, Political Cultures and Social Practices
Edited By Christian Giordano and Nicolas Hayoz
The Social Organization of Informality: The Rationale Underlying Personalized Relationships and Coalitions
Informality in the Public Sphere: An Embarrassing Topic for the Social Sciences
The notion of informality is frowned upon by social science experts and politicians alike. It has a terrible reputation. This contempt from anthropology and sociology stems from ethical-moral normative and methodological reasons.
Most probably this bad reputation was already present, albeit implicitly, in the founding works of the social sciences in which socially established or legally required behaviours in the modern Western world play a predominant and nearly exclusive role. According to the founding fathers of sociology and anthropology, these highly formalized social practices are the ones that ensure order and cohesion in a social body. Yet, the question of a society’s internal stability and integration – in accordance with this epistemological paradigm, which may broadly be defined as functionalist – is precisely the central concern of the newborn social sciences. We need only mention Emile Durkheim, for whom social research chiefly involved a systematic analysis of the various forms of social cohesion expressed in terms such as mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity (Durkheim, 1967). Everything that challenges and destroys social cohesion is a threat to the existence of a collectivity and is ultimately anomy – the utter lack of established, if not indeed legalized, rules. Consequently, due to its alleged lack of clearly defined rules, informality can easily be equated with anomic phenomena and thus with the worst enemies of society. ← 27 | 28 →
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