Studying informality on the edge of informality...and beyond
Abel Polese, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction, Dublin City University Title: Studying informality on the edge of informality...and beyond
Abstract: This presentation deals with the methodological, ethical and practical issues of the study of informality. It concentrates on three main aspects of the study of informality:
1) Why to study informality. By doing this we will explore the need to observe what I call “invisible” phenomena, meaning with that phenomena that seem to appear from nowhere. There is a tendency, among a number social scientists, to notice things only when they become visible, or official. Studying invisible phenomena means to explore the structures and dynamics underlying a given situation regardless of whether they are visible to people reading newspapers or not.
2) “corner of the eye” approach (Craciun 2008). Research on informality often emerges as a side effect of some other research. This is not by chance. Informality is not only difficult to notice but also to study, given the consequences for the observer and the observed. Questions on whether someone engages with informal practices, at the limit of the lawful, are not always easy to ask and gate keepers are not always available.
3) Reporting informality. Informality scholars are often marginalised into debates at the limit of social sciences. In an attempt to provide a critical view of situations often taken for granted, they run the risk of remaining at the edge of main debates. We will discuss whether and how this could be avoided.
More research seminars in Sociology of Law this spring: soclaw.lu.se/en/research/research-seminars-in-sociology-of-law