Special Issue Call for Papers: Informality and symbolic power in the Caucasus

The vast literature on informality that has emerged in the past ten years can be regarded as supporting two opposite positions. One approach tends to condemn informality or at least classify it as a transitional phenomenon given its alleged negative effects on a number of aspects of public life (Acemoglu & Verdier, 2000; Bhattacharyya & Hodler, 2010; Johnson, Kaufmann, & Zoido-Lobaton, 1998; Kaufmann, Kraay, & Mastruzzi, 2010; Rothstein & Teorell, 2008). The second one concentrates on dynamics and mechanisms to understand and explain it, while also debating its relationship with the market and society (Gudeman, 2001; Hann & Hart, 2011; Sahlins, 1976).

Recent writing on informality has gone beyond both a mere economic view and, drawing on early works of Granovetter (Granovetter, 1985), and rediscovered its interconnection with social phenomena (Gudeman, 2001; Yalçın-Heckmann, 2014) to propose a more holistic interpretation of the meaning of informality and its influence in various spheres of life (Helmke & Levitsky, 2004; Isaacs, 2011; A. Ledeneva, 2009; A. V. Ledeneva, 1998; Misztal, 2000; Morris, 2011).

The post-socialist world has provided one of the largest empirical contributions to informality (Giordano & Hayoz, 2013; Morris & Polese, 2014, 2015; Polese, 2014, 2015; Polese, Morris, Kovács, & Harboe, 2014; Round & Williams, 2010). However, in many respects the Caucasus region has remained largely underexplored. While sporadic chapters and articles have engaged with a broad informality framework (Aliyev, 2014; Rekhviashvili, 2015), a larger body of research has tended to take a normative stance against informality in the region, primarily focusing on corruption (Engvall, 2012; Kupatadze, 2012), nepotism and the lack of bridging  social capital (CRRC, 2011). In this context, we feel that the specificities of the region are such that more efforts need to be devoted to a debate on local issues, before or while engaging with a broader audience. 

Deadline: 31 October 2015 

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