Paper short abstract:
Ethnographic data about informal trade in Mandlakazi, a small town in southern Mozambique, allows for a detailed analysis of credit and price regulation mechanisms, and of women's role in the complex social networks which shape this economic field.
Paper long abstract:
The small-scale market-oriented production and informal production activities are wide spread all over the world, with special intensity in Africa and Latin America. The informal economy is, in many cases, an opportunity window for all those that were marginalized by the new settings induced by outcomes of the neoliberal politics.
The paper discusses the data collected during the ethnographic fieldwork in Mandlakazi, a small town of Southern Mozambique. It starts with a historically view about the rise of the informal trade in that town. It will then show how the reorganization of the economic life is a consequence of the decline of the wage work, a consequence of the politics of structural adjustment imposed by some international organizations, such as International Monetary Found and World Bank. Special attention will be paid to forms of circulation of commodities in Mandlakazi local markets, credit mechanisms, practices of regulation of economic competition and prices formation and the key economic roles carried out by the women. Social actors are elements of intricate networks of social relationships, thus mobilizing various sources of knowledge, capital and other resources. In any case, both the actor's expectations and ambiguities raise important questions about the stratification and social classes theories.
Formal and informal economies in a global world