Economic sociologists in Russia have always paid much attention to studying informal and shadow economy. They apply structural and institutional insights as two complementary approaches to the definition of the informal economy. When following the structural approach suggested in the early 1970s by Keith Hart, informal economy is defined as a set of economic activities which are not displayed in official reporting and/or formal contracting. This kind of informal economy consists of two major sectors. The first sector is presented by the unobservable economy of the households largely confined to subsistence production and redistribution, including informal work at the private land plots, informal credit relationships, and inter-family mutual aid. People employed in the informal household economy do not consciously conceal their activity from the state; the state just overlooks them. The second sector is made up of the shadow economy, which involves enterprises consciously hiding their revenues in order to lessen their tax base. The shadow economy entails the non-registration of enterprise or some parts of the enterprise activity, employing a workforce without formal contracts and double book-keeping. Unlike the informal activities of households, the shadow activity of enterprises ought to be reported to the statistical and tax authorities, but in spite of this, such activity is often concealed from them (Barsukova 2000; Radaev 2002a). There is a relatively small but important part of the shadow economy associated with the illegal markets. They deal with the goods and services prohibited by the law (drug trafficking, prostitution, etc). Studying these markets is highly relevant for economic sociology (Beckert, Wehinger, 2011). Within the framework of the institutionalist approach, the informal economy was put into a broad framework delineating all informal relationships that accompany formal institutions, in order to make them run smoothly and to compensate for their failures. An informal economy of this kind is an integral component of activities for all market actors. In this overview, we discuss the major outcomes of the studies of the Russian informal economy, including the rise of the shadow economy in the Post-Soviet era, corruption and violence in business, the maintenance of inter-family reciprocal exchanges and the progressive legalization of business activities.
This volume deals with one of the most understudied aspects of everyday life in Russian society. Its main heroes are the providers of goods and services to whom people turn for healthcare instead of official medical institutions. A wide range of agents is described—from network marketing companies to 'folk' journals on health as well as healers, complementary medicine specialists, and religious organizations. Krasheninnikova’s book is based on rich empirical observations and avoids both positive and critical assessment of the analyzed phenomena. Her investigation pays particular attention to the legal, social, and economic status of informal healthcare providers. She demonstrates that these agents tend to flourish in bigger towns rather than in small settlements, where public healthcare is lacking. The study reveals the important role of institutions that are generally not related to alternative medicine, such as pharmacies, libraries, and church shops. The result is a vivid and thorough introduction to the world of self-medication and alternative healing in contemporary Russia. A special emphasis was made on the flexibility of boundaries between formal and informal healthcare due to the evolution of rules and regulations.
The article is devoted to police moonlighting in Russia. Despite the initial function of law regulation, in many countries police transformed in a destructive tool. In contemporary time police are highly involved in economic activity, which is embedded in business and political spheres. The authors describe the complicated intertwining of legal and illegal aspects of the activity, and bring light to fundamental causes of police moonlighting and socio-economic and political consequences of the phenomenon. The article is based on results of researches of key Russian teams in this field.
Informal practices are both accommodating and resistant to change. On the one hand, they adapt to change and serve to soften external constraints. On the other, they are grounded in informal norms and channel peer pressure within social circles