Labour Law, Development and the Uses of Informality

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Informality, Transnational Governance, Development


What are we to do with ‘informality? ’ Rather than being a label for a definite but poorly understood collection of economic practices or a term whose loose usage muddles a multiplicity of referents, informality is an essentially contested concept. It is not simply that disagreements exist about the nature or meaning of informality. Rather, like other keywords of transnational governance, contests over the concept’s meaning are entangled with struggles over socio-economic policy, institutional design, and administrative process – struggles, that is, over how power is to be exercised, and by whom. More precisely, disagreements about how to conceptualise informality interface with theoretical debates about the legitimate ends, means, agents and beneficiaries of development, as well as with processes that determine development practice. Development researchers had already by the 1970s identified informality’s semantic entanglements with competing agendas.


DOI: 10.5040/