Incorporating Informality

Mörtenböck, Peter and Mooshammer, Helge. 2023. Incorporating Informality. In: Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer, eds. IN/FORMAL Marketplaces: Experiments With Urban Reconfiguration. Rotterdam: nai010 publishers, pp. 9-51. ISBN 9789462088092 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Book chapter discussing spatial interventions in informal markets as economic policy indicators.

In recent years, an expanding range of formal-informal linkages, such as the taxation of the informal sector and the creation of informal jobs by state institutions, has increasingly focussed attention on the networked operations of informal markets. Often triggered by political upheaval, economic destabilisation, migratory movements and new labour situations, informal markets shape a form of alternative economic governance wherever and whenever institutional protocols have come to a deadlock.

With the informal sector estimated to account for more than half of all economic activity worldwide, a more decisive engagement with economic informality by the world’s governing bodies is increasingly being seen as critical to achieving a more sustainable form of global development. However, current policy approaches are still torn between framing informality as the root problem – as a “drag on growth”, as a recent World Bank report put it – and attempts to recognise people involved in the informal economy as valid economic actors and to tap into their entrepreneurial capacities.

This chapter explores how these differences are indicative of the current tensions around the development of novel forms of formal-informal linkages, especially around new forms of economic governance that go beyond state-oriented notions of how to generate political order and economic growth. In doing so, it aims to provide a clearer picture of the different motivations, practices and effects of these divergent approaches to economic informality.

Item Type:

Book Section


informal economy, urban transformation, formal-informal linkages, globalisation

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


October 2023Published

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Date Deposited:

18 Jan 2024 09:36

Last Modified:

28 Mar 2024 11:30


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