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Économie informelle, vulnérabilités et emploi

Informal economy, vulnerabilities and employment

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Publié le jeudi 26 mai 2011 par Loïc Le Pape

Résumé

The central objective of this conference is to provide a state of the heart of academic research on the substantive performance of informal economic units in the construction of their territory. It means that it intends to (1) highlight the inner socioeconomic logics developed by informal economy units, (2) provide a better understanding of socioeconomic practices to manage risk across the life course and fight vulnerabilities at individual, family and collective levels, (3) analyze the interaction between public policies and informal practices and (4) analyze how securization practices within the informal economy participate to the construction of a given territory (of its markets, of potential social services, social protection mechanisms, and of its public sphere). It will provide a new knowledge of specific mechanisms of coordination, reproduction, surplus allocation and securization which are characterizing individual/family and collective/associative organizations from the informal economy.

Annonce

International conference on “Informal economy, vulnerabilities and employment”, University of Geneva, 9-10 February 2012, Organized by the Institute of Socioeconomics, University of Geneva

BACKGROUND

The emerging consensus toward pro-employment patterns of growth has led a large number of developing countries to devote greater attention to mass informal employment which is one of the main features of their labour market. In a context of global decent work deficits, breaking out of informality and facilitating transition to decent work is increasingly seen as a crucial development challenge to achieve Millennium Development Goal 1[1]. At the root of the problem of informal employment is the inability of most developing economies to create sufficient numbers of formal jobs for a growing labour force while the level of informal employment into the formal economy is also increasing in many countries. As these trends are likely to continue if not combated, facilitating transition to formality and decent work should be a core policy priority in developing countries’ development policy frameworks.

Despite the fact that there is a tremendous lack of available and reliable statistical data on the informal economy, the available data and research papers confirm that informal economy workers face worse working conditions and higher poverty risk than those in the formal economy. While some activities in the informal economy offer reasonable livelihoods and incomes, most people engaged in informal activities face insecure incomes and a wide range of decent work deficits. The informal economy is the main and often only source of livelihood for many groups of workers who accumulate multiple layers of disadvantage based on gender, ethnic origin, migrant status and other factors.

Multidimensional vulnerabilities, high exposure to risk combined with low social protection coverage places most informal economy workers and units in a very vulnerable situation. Not only is this damaging to the well-being of these workers and their families but it also constitutes, as a range of evidence shows, a severe constraint preventing households from increasing productivity and finding a route out of poverty. Moreover, transition to formality and decent work has now to face new challenges related to the impact of the global financial crisis on domestic economies. Indeed, the global financial crisis has spilled over to emerging and developing economies. If growth is back after a severe drawback or slowdown according to the different regions of the world, the impact of the global recession on the informal employment cannot be underestimated.

The long tradition of research on economic and social development at the University of Geneva has recently been renewed with the attribution - along with the University of Lausanne - of a National Centre for Competences and Research: "Overcoming Vulnerability. Life Course Perspectives", and the subsequent decision of the University of Geneva to define "Vulnerable Populations" as one of its priority axis for research.

Open to many other colleagues and institutions, the University of Geneva will organize an international conference on recent cutting edge research in the understanding of the functioning of the informal economy through the association in a scientific committee board of i) the Lemanic competences about the theoretical conceptualization of vulnerability and its empirical study across the life course, ii) the European Social Network in Social Economy (EMES), iii) the Oxford University School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies and iv) the Geneva based International Labour Organization (ILO) which is a pioneer in analyzing both the conceptual and the underlying social and economic challenges related to the informal economy.

OBJECTIVES OF THE CONFERENCE

Most of the abundant literature about the informal sector is based on the implicit assumption that development proceeds by means of the growth in the formal modern sector. The informal sector is studied through its place and its role in relation to the formal sector[2] and the analysis of it is generally functional to the formal one. Very few researches have been carried out about the identities and the inner logics developed by such a huge amount of diverse initiatives. Nonetheless, when confronted to the current acute issues related to poverty reduction, to the implementation of decent working conditions or to the construction of social protection mechanisms in developing countries, a growing literature shows that we have to take into account the informal activities and, in particular, their own functioning logics (in their real and financial dimensions) and how such activities interact with public policies and international organizations’ domestic programs/projects. There is an urgency to develop a deep knowledge about these existing practices, as it is only on the basis of such expertise that we will be able to think about an innovative and appropriate social protection system needed for the workers[3].

As few empirical and theoretical progresses have been made in this research area, this international conference aims to deepen the understanding of the informal modes of producing goods and services and of securing revenue. Mechanisms of securing revenue based on diversification of activities as opposed to capital accumulation and financial management of risks should be discussed. The conference also intends to bring knowledge on the diversity of the economic practices developed by the popular groups, in order to ensure, through the use of their own working force and on other available resources, the satisfaction of their material and immaterial needs[4], as well as the ones of their relatives.

In rural and urban areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America, “financial inclusion” with an emphasis on access to credit, is increasingly becoming the goal of development projects. Microfinance flourishes in quite remote areas with the aim not only to promote financial inclusion but also to help poor people develop their businesses or initiate new ones, which are generally informal. Access to such financial services (especially credit) is thus supposed to be linked to an increase of informal activities and informal jobs. Some recent empirical studies do not show evidence of a strong link between microfinance and paid job creation: few families start a new business and the share of paid employees is very small in these businesses.

The conference attends to strengthen the multidisciplinary scientific research on plural economy and will allow a deepening of the theoretical and empirical debates related to this research framework. It is based on a substantive definition of the economy, coming from Polanyi intellectual legacy[5]. Therefore, while formal economy approaches consider the market as the main matrix for economic actions[6], substantive approaches allow to update and to study, without any a priori ranking, the plurality of the economic and financial logics working into societies and how they interact. They seek to rebuild the complexity of the forms of production, of finance and of circulation of wealth, which combinations can be very diverse[7]. The conference calls for innovative researches to highlight the plurality of logics and regulating modes which can spread out, in terms of actors and of resources. From a Polanyian perspective, the Conference aims at distinguishing between market resources (stemming from the sales of goods and services), redistributive resources (issuing from eventual public aids, as by instance from the international development cooperation through the support given to groups by NGO), resources emanating from reciprocity relations (embedded in local networks of solidarity) and resources stemming from the domestic group such as family, household, clan, community, family network etc[8]. Due to the importance of the non-monetary resources to sustain the projects in the informal sector[9], the Conference makes the hypothesis that innovative methodologies to capture informal economy inner logic will allow us to update in an innovative way our understanding of the different regulation modes on which the informal units rely and which specify their economic relations with a diversity of external actors to the project.

The central objective of the conference is to provide a state of the heart of academic research on the substantive performance of informal economic units in the construction of their territory. It means that it intends to (1) highlight the inner socioeconomic logics developed by informal economy units, (2) provide a better understanding of socioeconomic practices to manage risk across the life course and fight vulnerabilities at individual, family and collective levels, (3) analyze the interaction between public policies and informal practices and (4) analyze how securization practices within the informal economy participate to the construction of a given territory (of its markets, of potential social services, social protection mechanisms, and of its public sphere). It will provide a new knowledge of specific mechanisms of coordination, reproduction, surplus allocation and securization which are characterizing individual/family and collective/associative organizations from the informal economy.

CONFERENCE THEMES

Theme 1: Capturing inner logics of the informal economy: Methodological challenges and approaches

Under this theme the conference invites papers addressing methodological issues related to the analysis of multi-actor strategies within the informal economy and their links to the formal and informal institutional frameworks. The emphasis is placed on i) operationalizing the concepts of “vulnerability” and “securization” in informal economy units’ surveys and ii) on capturing inner logics of socioeconomic practices in the informal economy. Papers addressing gendered, age-related and intersecting dimensions of insecurity (economic in/securities, informalization of labour markets and identity/territorial construction) responses are most welcome.

Theme 2: Better understanding the main drivers of informalization and precarization of employment

Under this theme the conference welcomes papers that address theoretical and empiric work seeking to develop new understandings of the main drivers of employment informalization and precarization in developing as well as developed countries. This session will give space for academic debate on the fact that the informal economy is operating in an environment marked by multidimensional public policies, complex formal/informal economy linkages, global economy trends and endogenous associative dynamics which are affecting in various ways: i) the functioning and level of vulnerability of informal economy units and ii) the transition path to decent work and formality[10]. Papers addressing the issue of public policies, or demands for public policies, and the various ways they interact with individual/collective actors strategies/practices of the informal economy are most welcome.

Theme 3: Informal economy and finance practices in securing livelihood and coping with vulnerabilities

This theme brings together case studies analyzing the various ways actors from the informal economy are securing livelihood and coping with multidimensional vulnerabilities at individual/family level and collective level. This session aims to deepen our understanding of: i) the modes of producing and trading goods and services and securing/increasing revenue and employment in the informal economy, ii) socioeconomic practices within the informal economy and finance, as well as how they interact with public policies and international organizations domestic programs/projects and iii) the impact of coexisting and interrelated regulations (formal and informal) related to employment, production and income distribution. Papers will provide first hand information about access to resources by informal economy units; taking into consideration market resources (stemming from the sales of goods and services), redistributive resources (issuing from eventual public policies, programs of international organizations or international/national NGOs), resources emanating from reciprocity relations (embedded in local networks of solidarity) and resources stemming from the domestic group (such as family, household networks); taking into account gender issues. The conference welcomes papers that will provide a new knowledge of specific mechanisms of coordination, reproduction, surplus allocation, employment creation, resources mobilization (microfinance, debt mechanisms, postponed reciprocity, etc.) which are characterizing individual/family and collective/associative organizations in the informal economy.

CALL FOR PAPERS

The deadline to submit abstracts is the 15th of August 2011.

  • Authors of selected abstract will be informed before the 30th of September 2011.
  • The deadline to submit final papers is the 15th of December 2011.
  • Presentation of the papers at the conference is on the 9th and 10th of February 2012.

For more information, you can contact: Sandra.Constantin@unige.ch

SUBMISSION DETAILS

Papers have to be submitted electronically (in PDF format) on the following address: Sandra.Constantin@unige.ch

Papers should be written in English and should be no more than 15 pages, font Times 12t, line spacing 1.5.

  • Authors are requested to follow the Harvard style referencing system: http://www.library.uq.edu.au/training/citation/harvard_6.pdf
  • The first page should contain the title of the paper, names and addresses of all authors (including e-mail), an abstract (100-150 words) and a list of keywords.
  • Submissions should describe original research. Papers accepted for presentation cannot be presented or have been presented at another meeting with publicly available published proceedings.
  • Over lengthy or late submissions will be rejected without review. Notification of receipt and acceptance of papers will be sent to the first author.

COMMITTEES

Organizing Committee:

Prof. Oris, Michel (University of Geneva, Institute of Socioeconomics – Switzerland)Dr. Lapeyre, Frédéric (ILO, Employment Policy Department – Switzerland)Dr. Hillenkamp, Isabelle (University of Geneva, Institute of Socioeconomics – Switzerland)Constantin, Sandra Valérie, PhD candidate (University of Geneva, Institute of Socioeconomics – Switzerland)

Scientific Committee:·

  • Carvalho de França Filho, Genauto, Professor, (EAUFBA, Universidade Federal da Bahia – Brazil) 
  • Defourny, Jacques, Professor (CES, Université de Liège, EMES – Belgium)
  • Harriss-White, Barbara, Professor (Oxford University, Faculty of Oriental Study, Director of the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies programme, Great Britain)
  • Hillenkamp, Isabelle, Postdoctoral researcher (UNIGE, University of Geneva, Institute of Socioeconomics – Switzerland)
  • Kanyenze, Godfrey, Director (Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe)
  • Kisamba-Mugerwa, Rebecca, Senior lecturer (Department of Sociology Makerere University – Uganda)
  • Lapeyre, Frédéric, PhD (ILO, Employment Policy Department – Switzerland)
  • Laville, Jean-Louis, Professor (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, EMES)
  • Larraechea Loeser, Ignacio, Professor (Decano FACEA, Universidad Central – Chile)
  • Lemaître, Andreia, Professor (DVLP and CIRTES, Université catholique de Louvain, EMES – Belgium)
  • Nyssens, Marthe, Professor (CIRTES, Université catholique de Louvain, EMES – Belgium)
  • Oris, Michel, Professor (UNIGE, University of Geneva, Institute of Socioeconomics – Switzerland)
  • Rainhorn, Jean-Daniel, Professor (Fernand Braudel Institute for Global Studies, Paris)
  • Rodgers, Dennis, Senior Research Fellow/Lecturer (Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester – United Kingdom)
  • Servet, Jean-Michel, Professor (IHEID, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies – Switzerland)

REGISTRATION FEES

No Registration fees to participate in the Conference

Lunch free only for speakers

PROCEEDINGS

A collection of the best papers presented at the conference will be published in an edited volume (Oxford University Press, to be confirmed).

LANGUAGE

The official languages of the conference are English and French.

Notes

[1] The conclusions of the general discussion on informal economy that took place during the International Labour Conference in 2002 indicate that the “term “informal economy” refers to all economic activities by workers and economic units that are – in law or in practice – not covered or insufficiently covered by formal arrangements. Their activities are not included in the law, which means that they are operating outside the formal reach of the law; or they are not covered in practice, which means that – although they are operating within the formal reach of the law, the law is not applied or not enforced; or the law discourages compliance because it is inappropriate, burdensome, or imposes excessive costs” (paragraph 3).

[2] Perry, G. E., W. F. Maloney & O. S. Omar, 2007, Informality: Exit and Exclusion, The World Bank, Washington, D.C.

[3] Lautier, B., 2004, L’économie informelle dans le tiers monde, La Découverte, Paris.

[4] Sarria Icaza, A. M., & L. Tiriba, 2005, “Economie populaire”, in: J.-L. Laville & A. D. Cattani, (dir.), Dictionnaire de l’autre économie, Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, pp. 217-224.

[5] Polanyi, K., 1944, The Great Transformation. The political and economic origins of our time, Beacon Press, Boston.

[6] Nyssens, M., 2000, “Les approches économiques du tiers-secteur, apports et limites des analyses anglo-saxonnes d’inspiration néo-classique”, Sociologie du travail, n° 42, pp. 551-565.

[7] Laville, J.-L., 2007, (dir.), L’économie solidaire. Une perspective internationale, Hachette Litératures, Paris.

[8] Laville, J.-L., & M. Nyssens, 2001, « The Social Enterprise. Towards a Theoretical Socio-economic Approach », in: C. Borzaga & J. Defourny, (eds.), The Emergence of Social Enterprise, Routledge, London and New York, pp. 312-332.

[9] Lemaître, A., 2009, Organisations d’économie sociale et solidaire. Lectures de réalités Nord et Sud à travers l’encastrement politique et une approche plurielle de l’économie, Presses Universitaires de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve.

[10] ILO (2009) The informal economy in Africa: Promoting transition to formality – Challenges and strategies, Geneva: ILO.

Lieux

  • 40 Bd du Pont d'Arve (UNIMAIL)
    Genève, Confédération Suisse

Dates

  • lundi 15 août 2011

Mots-clés

  • économie informelle, vulnérabilité, emploi

Contacts

  • Isabelle Hillenkamp
    courriel : Isabelle [dot] Hillenkamp [at] unige [dot] ch

Source de l'information

  • Isabelle Hillenkamp
    courriel : Isabelle [dot] Hillenkamp [at] unige [dot] ch

Pour citer cette annonce

« Économie informelle, vulnérabilités et emploi », Appel à contribution, Calenda, Publié le jeudi 26 mai 2011, http://calenda.org/204506