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Informality in Eastern Europe

Structures, Political Cultures and Social Practices

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Edited By Christian Giordano and Nicolas Hayoz

This volume deals with different aspects of informal structures and practices in Eastern Europe. Its objectives are twofold. It aims at discovering whether or to what extent informal structures and practices in Eastern Europe have meanings, functions, forms and effects different from those that can be observed in the politics and societies of Western Europe. The authors of this volume – most of them are from the region – have been invited to discuss the scientific relevance of the distinction informal / formal in their respective field of research or discipline. This points to the second objective of this volume which is to encourage a more fruitful interaction between disciplines that often disregard each other and which, despite inevitable and essential epistemological differences, have significant shared interests such as the comparative analysis of political phenomena in terms of elementary forms of social organization. The relation between informality and formality in a more methodologically pluralist and ultimately holistic way can be analysed via regards croisés between the disciplines anthropology, political science and sociology. This allows the extension of this comparative and multidisciplinary approach to other themes and phenomena of mutual interests.
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Shadow Economy, Corruption and Informal Political Exchanges: The Greek Case in a Comparative Perspective

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In this chapter, the underground economy and corruption will be discussed in the context of informal political exchanges. After a short historical and literary overview, the main theoretical dimensions of these variables, and their links, will be examined. Then, indicators will be analysed (human development, level of underground economy, level of corruption, social capital, trust in institutions, negative and positive informalities, inequality, social conflict …) in order to relate the Greek case to other European countries (especially in southern Europe and the Balkans). The comparison will cover 14 countries, including Greece. The last section of this chapter will try to explain the reasons for the Greek situation, with reference to the economic and social history of the country. The conclusion highlights the multiple correlations (which can be obscur) between informality, economy and politics.

Introduction

I will begin with two stories that permit a direct connection to be made between the dark side of society and the informal practices of democracy. The first recalls of one of Andersen’s tales: “The Shadow” (first published in 1847; Andersen, 1992: 344–355). It consists of an excellent parable – my interpretation is in parentheses: firstly, the Shadow (the dark side of economy, the political corruption) progressively seizes power in place of the Master (economy, democracy) … Then, the Shadow gets married with a wonderful princess (society) and the Master is condemned to death … Thus, there seems to be a fundamental problem when the shadow economy and the informal politics dominate societies....

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