In the text the authors analyze blurred boundaries between the legal and illegal markets taking an example of the shadow economic activities of police officers in Russia. Being a tool for maintaining law and order, in many transformation countries the police has turned into a powerful vehicle of institutional subversion. The authors summarize publications investigating police corruption and moonlighting in Russia as a socially embedded phenomenon. They reveal the fundamental reasons for commercialization of the police activity.
A specific form of informal employment is presented by electronic freelancers, e.g. self-employed professionals working remotely via the Internet. Andrey Shevchuk and Denis Strebkov launched Russian Freelance Survey (RFS) that brought more than 10,000 usable responses in each of two waves in 2008 and 2010, making RFS one of the largest freelance surveys in the world. Using these unique data sets, the authors describe the main groups involved in the Russian-speaking e-lance market and demonstrate how they cope with the high level of informality of institutional arrangements and opportunistic behaviour of market actors.
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.
The focus of the paper is informal employment in Russia, particularly its development and dynamics as well as the measurement problems and previous research review. The author is trying to explain why it is so sustainable both in the period of crisis and in the period of economic growth. The main conclusions are that the constant increasing rates of the informal employment (almost 20% of all employed) is explained by the dominant strategy of balancing work in the formal and informal sectors and positive evaluations of its benefits and joint interests of the informal workers and their employers.
The author points to some common theoretical roots of the new economic sociology and relationships marketing. The author describes many common research interests they have including their focus on relational aspects of the market exchange viewed as ongoing process accompanied by formation of long-lasting ties between exchange partners; active use of the network approach; studying motivation of the market participants; stressing the importance of communication and information exchange.
Thus, in spite of many substantive differences, the proponents of economic sociology and relationship marketing might have many reasons to pay closer attention to what is being done by their neighbors.
The notion of institutions is perhaps one of the most “sociological” among economic concepts, as it applies to agents’ dealing with each other. New Institutional Economics combines the economic and sociological perspectives of human behavior. In this paper we review recent studies in institutional economics which to large extent reflects agenda of the International Society of New Institutional Economics 2011 meeting, including such research areas as property rights, political economy, economic history, informal norms, trust and economic development. We show that in light of these results the main message of the discipline, i.e. that ‘institutions matter’, could be reformulated as ‘institutions and society matter’ and NIE is a natural field for interdisciplinary collaboration between economists and sociologists.
Ph.D. project proposal of innovative consumption practices study with focus on computer and Internet utilization in Russian households is presented in the paper. It is suggested to use concepts from diffusion of innovations and theories of practice as the bases for the theoretical framework of this empirical study. Theories of practice are particularly relevant for consumption studies as they allow overcoming major limitations of sociological and economic research and theorizing in this area.
The main goal of this paper is to address the issues of defining and measuring the concept of ‘financial literacy’ in all-Russian surveys as well as to reveal the changes in the level of financial literacy of Russians during the period of 2008-2010. The main finding of these surveys is that the level of financial literacy of Russians is low. During the crisis it started growing but only in terms of self-estimation and perception. In 2009 people thought that they were more financially literate than before the crisis. However, when they answer questions in the objective tests, a substantial change in attitudes, knowledge and skills can hardly be noticed.