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Informality in Eastern Europe

Structures, Political Cultures and Social Practices


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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Institutionalization of Market Order and Reinstitutionalization of Vruzki (Connections) in Bulgaria



In describing the fundamental characteristics of economic systems, Polanyi theoretically differentiates between basic patterns of economic integration – reciprocity, redistribution and free market exchange (Polanyi, 1957). According to him, reciprocity indicates the relationship between certain symmetrical groups, where mechanisms of social obligation, loyalty and acknowledgement apply. Whereas reciprocity implies symmetry, redistribution is confined to centricity. Here economic interaction is characterized by the dominance of distinct authority. Market exchange ensures the dispersion of economic power among all the participants in the transactions. “The market economy implies a self-regulating system of markets […] capable of organizing the whole of economic life without outside help or interference” (Polanyi, 1957: 48–49). It is the institutionalization of one or other of these integrative forms that guarantees an economy’s unity and stability (Polanyi, 1992: 33).

In Polanyi’s perspective, the institutional transformation of the economic life that was underway after 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) can be defined as deinstitutionalization of socialist redistribution and institutionalization of free market exchange. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the above processes using the example of Bulgaria, in the light of the interaction between formal and informal market institutions. In the first part of the chapter this interaction is examined from the theoretical point of view. Formal market institutions are associated with public market order, whereas informal ones are seen as conventions of private market ordering. In the second part of the chapter I investigate the specific characteristics of the institutionalization...

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