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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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Introduction: Exploring Informality in Eastern Europe through Different Disciplines

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The idea for this book goes back to a discussion between anthropologists and political scientists on the meanings of informality and on the question about how to link diverging conceptions of informal practices and structures, particularly in the context of the ongoing political, economic and social changes in Eastern Europe. The objectives of this book are twofold.

First, and with regard to the main distinction of this book between informality and formality, it aims to discover 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 – the majority among them are from the region – working with the conceptual distinction between informality and formality, have been invited to discuss these questions. A particular focus is given to the question of the extent to which informal institutions and practices can be considered as a transitional phenomenon, to be observed in certain fields, areas and periods, or whether we are confronted here with a rather more structural or persistent phenomenon. As all three important regions in Eastern Europe are covered by the contributions we may expect to see that patterns of informal structures and practices are following more-or-less the direction of the transformations in the political systems, the regional economies and societies.

Second, this volume is an attempt to bring together scholars from different disciplines under the “umbrella” distinction...

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