Explaining Participation in Undeclared Work

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This paper evaluates critically competing explanations for participation in undeclared work that either read engagement through a structuralist lens as driven by 'exclusion' from state benefits and the circuits of the modern economy or through a neo-liberal and/or post-structuralist lens as driven by the voluntary 'exit' of workers out of formal institutions. Reporting a 2005/6 household work practices survey involving 313 face-to-face interviews in contemporary Moscow, the finding is that there is no single unique logic underpinning undeclared work in this post-Soviet city; such work is neither universally driven by exclusion nor exit. Different mixtures of the two prevail across different populations and forms of undeclared work. The outcome is a call for greater appreciation of the multifarious character of undeclared work and a move beyond simplistic explanations and policy responses.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-418
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Societies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • decent work, informal economy, structure, Moscow, post-socialism, agency, Russia