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Informalization of the Economy, Re-commodification of Labour and Migration


The aim of this project is to critically review the actual concepts on informal economy, and its relation to structural changes of the labour market, and migration. The project also has an ambition to highlight the borderline between formal and informal economy, and to develop a theoretical framework, suitable for empirical research on informal economy in its relation to the re-commodification of labour and migration.


Informal/irregular , Regulation/deregulation, Segmentation, informal economy, re-commodification


The traditional understanding of the informal economy in western economies as a marginal phenomenon related to the survival strategies of marginal social groups has become increasingly problematic. Recent research have shown that informalization of so-called advanced economies is intimately related to the wider processes of ongoing post-Fordistic restructuring of the western economies on the one hand and to the parallel process of the adjustment of the western welfare states on the other hand (Slavnic 2007). In view of that informalization is understand as part of global strategies of liberalization and deregulation that bring back pre-industrial forms of labour exploitation into developed economies through "vertical chains of subcontracting" (Schierup et al, 2006). Corporate strategies of downsizing, outsourcing and sub-contracting and the crisis management strategies of welfare state agencies carry with them dynamic forces of informalisation in economies and labour markets; that is informalisation from above (Slavnic, 2007). The expansion of informal economy - understood as "the unregulated production and/or distribution of otherwise licit goods and services" - is thus intimately intertwined with the formal economy and strategies of restructuring among corporate actors in public (welfare state) as well as private sectors. It includes both informal employment and informal businesses and a range of marginalised actors, who share the common condition manifested in the lack of legal recognition and protection, extreme vulnerability and a dependence on informal institutional engagements that generate their own idiosyncratic "political economy" (Likic-Brboric, 2007). As these actors develop strategies, beyond the reach of formal regulatory frameworks, in order to cope with their own vulnerable situation, they contribute to a reproduction of irregularity through informalisation from below (Slavnic, 2007).
The aim of this project is to further develop this analytical framework, making it suitable for empirical research on the issues of informal economy, re-commodification of the labour and migration.


Likic-Brboric, Branka, Slavnic, Zoran and Woolfson, Charles (2013). Labour Migration and Informalisation: East meets West, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Volume 33, Issue 11/12,
Slavnic, Z. (2013), ?Working in the ?Bleak House? ? an autoethnographic study of ethnic segmentation, precarization and informalization in the London hotel industry?, Hospitality & Society 3: 1, pp. 7?24, doi: 10.1386/hosp.3.1.7_1
Likic-Brboric, Branka, Zoran Slavnic, and Charles Woolfson. (2012) "Informalisering - Migration Och Arbete I Ett Utvidgat Europa." In Migrationens Och Etnicitetens Epok. Kritiska Perspektiv I Etnicitets- Och Migrationsstudier, edited by Magnus Dahlstedt and Anders Neergaard. 261 - 80. Stockholm: Liber.
Slavnic, Zoran (2010), "Political economy of informalisation", European Societies, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.3-25
Slavnic, Zoran (2010), "Struggle for survival in the deregulated market: Re-commodification and Informalisation of the taxi sector in Stockholm?, Forum for Social Economics, Published online 12 January 2010, DOI 10.1007/s12143-009-9060-y
Slavnic, Zoran (2009), "La informalización y la economía política de la reestructuración", Migración y desarrollo Vol. 13, 5-26.
Urban, Susanne, and Zoran Slavnic (2008), "Etnisk märkning av taxibranschen", Dansk Sociologi 19 (1):53 - 72.
Slavnic, Zoran, and Susanne Urban (2008), "Socio-Economic Trends in the Swedish Taxi Sector ? Deregulation, Recommodification, Ethnification", International Journal on Multicultural Societies (IJMS) 10 (1):76 - 94.
Slavnic, Zoran (2007), "Informalization of the Economy and the Recomodification of Labour", in Erik Berggren, Branka Likic-Brboric, Gulay Toksoz and Nicos Trimikliniotis (eds.), Irregular Migration, Informal Labour and Community in Europe, Maastricht: Shaker Publishing.
Slavnic, Z.. (2006) "Ekonomins informalisering och arbetets rekomodifiering." in Kors och tvärs, edited by E. Gunnarsson, A. Neergard, and A. Nilsson. Stockholm: Normal.
Slavnic, Z. (2002). Informell ekonomi och välfärdssamhället i ovandling. Marginalisering eller integration? Invandrares företagande i svensk retorik och praktik. En förskningsrapport. A. Rosing, C. Råberg and E. Sundin. Stockholm, NUTEK,.

Other Academic Output

Slavnic, Zoran (2011), Political Economy of Informalization, Hawaii International Conference on Social Sciences, 10th Annual Conference 2011, June 1-, Honolulu
Slavnic, Zoran (2009), "'Taxi driver' precarious work, ethnic segmentation and informal economic strategies in the Swedish taxi industry", Paper read at 14th International Metropolis Conference, Copenhagen, September 14-18, 2009;
Slavnic, Zoran (2008), "Swedish taxi industry: Deregulation, re-commodification, ethnification, informalization", Paper read at Conference: Irregular Migration, Informal Labour and Community in Europe (IMILCO). Istanbul, December 4-5 2008;
Slavnic, Z.. (2005). "Informalization of the Economy and the Recomodification of Labour." Paper read at Conference: Irregular Migration, Informal Labour and Community in Europe (IMILCO). Istambul, December 1-2 2005.

2007 - 2017


FAS/FORTE Research environment funding

REMESO Project Leader

Zoran Slavnic, Associate Professor (biträdande professor)

Participants from REMESO

Branka Likic-Brboric
Charles Woolfson
Susanne Urban

Contact for project


Last updated: 2014-06-05

Page responsible: erik.berggren@liu.se
Last updated: 2020-05-27