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Sociologies of Formality and Informality

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Edited By Adriana Mica, Jan Winczorek and Rafał Wiśniewski

The way sociology frames the relation between formality and informality is not only complex and multifaceted, but has also evolved over time. This volume offers contributions by international authors that illustrate distinct types of theoretical framings and present various sites of inquiry. It proposes a typology comprising: the sociology of informally embedded formality, the sociology of formally embedded informality, the sociology of the interaction between formality and informality and the sociology of the emergence and transformation of formality and informality.
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Understanding Informality: Conceptual Lessons from Informal Settlement in Southern Africa

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Introduction

Urban Sociology and Urban Studies more broadly have provided an intellectual home for the empirical study and the conceptual development of informality, primarily as it manifests in the sectors of the economy, politics, and housing. Since different definitions of informality betray normative assumptions about informality, these definitions also have implications for social justice. Descriptions of informality in hegemonic discourses that portray informality as separate or decoupled from the formal tend to portray informality as deviant, betraying normative assumptions that the formal ideal should be pursued or protected (Groenewald et al. 2013). Instead of strategies that empower those who resort to informality, these assumptions can lead to strategies to regulate, control or repress informality. This is often to the detriment of marginalised communities.

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