Dr John Round, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Birmingham and Higher School of Economics, Moscow and Dr Nicolette Makovicky, Departmental Lecturer in Russian and East European Studies give a talk for the FLJS Series
Twenty-five years on from the collapse of communism in the Eastern Bloc, this book colloquium will take a comparative approach to two new publications on the importance in everyday life of the informal economy in a post-Soviet, post-Socialist era. In recent years, there has emerged a growing consensus among social scientists that everyday economic transactions — comprising cash-in-hand work, subsistence production, and the use of social networks — have increasingly become subsumed by a more thoroughly regulated formal economy. But two books published in the last year challenge this view, by bringing to light the thriving, if hidden, informal economies in Russia and Eastern Europe. Economies of Favour after Socialism by Nicolette Makovicky and David Henig (Oxford University Press, 2014) and The Role of Informal Economies in the Post-Soviet World. The End of Transition? by John Round, Colin C. Williams, and Peter Rodgers (Routledge, 2013) explore the intricate relationship between formal and informal economies, and suggest that informal economies are not merely the residue of a past era, but constitute an essential part of the entire economy to this day. The colloquium will bring together two of the authors, Dr Nicolette Makovicky and Dr John Round, with socio-legal scholars and anthropologists to explore these complex relationships, and discuss how informal work, often, actually supports more formal income, as people can only afford to undertake low-paid formal work as a result of their informal incomes. These publications open up an important debate on the ambit of law and the reach of its regulatory control; understandings of, and attitudes towards, laws and legal systems; and the impact and effectiveness of laws on wider social relations.