Informal Sector

Karen Tranberg Hansen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


A processual notion of informality is replacing that of an informal sector, which emerged in the early 1970s from research on urban development as a name for activities and enterprises escaping formal economic regulation. It and other terms for nonregulated economic activities have since then been applied to research in the West, yet the bulk of work continues to be undertaken in the developing world. Characterizing organizational processes as informal recognizes complex linkages between informal and formal activities across all economic levels rather than within clearly bounded sectors. The focus has changed from descriptions of informal activities in different settings to questions about their potential for growth to the dynamics of informalization in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015


  • Collective organizing
  • Formal-informal divide
  • Informal associations
  • Informal settlements
  • Informality
  • Licensing
  • Market liberalization
  • Microenterprise
  • Networking
  • Participatory approaches
  • Regulation
  • Savings groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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