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Problem and power: informal commerce between repression and enterprisation

Rangel, Felipe (2019) Problem and power: informal commerce between repression and enterprisation. Journal of Illicit Economies and Development, 1 (2). pp. 183-192. ISSN 2516-7227

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Identification Number: 10.31389/jied.33


More often than not, the idea of ‘informal commerce’ is associated with precariousness, informality, illegality, and poor product quality. This is the common representation of this market historically and systematically built based on everyday conversation, official discourse, and the media, which also tends to reinforce the aspects of insecurity and disorder of the spaces and marginality of those involved to describe it. Based on interviews, media coverage, and ethnographical observation of business practices carried out by a group of traders, the objective of this paper is to analyze the transformations this market has gone through in recent years and reflect upon the reasons for, and the effect of, new regulatory strategies that were put in place. I shall discuss this transformation in light of the concept of enterprisation of informal commerce (i.e., the application of enterprise models to such business activities), which have been transforming spaces, regulations, and even workers’ conducts, perceptions, and expectations. I hereby argument that regulatory strategies have been set forth based on a double narrative that responds to both economical exploitation interests and the discourse against certain illegal activities, and that this resulted in a process of labor gentrification.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 The Author
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2019 14:27
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2022 18:03

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