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Social Contracts and Informal Workers in the Global South

9781839108051 Edward Elgar Publishing
Edited by Laura Alfers, Research Associate, Department of Sociology, Rhodes University, South Africa and Director, Social Protection Programme, WIEGO, UK, Marty Chen, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, US and Senior Advisor, WIEGO, UK and Sophie Plagerson, Centre for Social Development in Africa, University of Johannesburg, South Africa and independent consultant, the Netherlands
Publication Date: June 2022 ISBN: 978 1 83910 805 1 Extent: c 256 pp
This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 License. It is free to read, download and share on Elgaronline.

Illustrating how current social contracts may be considered inadequate, irrelevant or unjust, Social Contracts and Informal Workers in the Global South draws on the accounts of informal workers to advocate for radically new conceptualizations of state-society, capital-labour and state-capital-labour relations characterised by recognition, responsiveness and reciprocity.

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Social Contracts and Informal Workers in the Global South draws on the accounts of informal workers, who represent over 60 per cent of the global workforce, to advocate for radically new conceptualizations of state-society, capital-labour and state-capital-labour relations, illustrating how current social contracts may be considered inadequate, irrelevant or unjust.

Bridging social contract theories, both mainstream and critical, and the experiences of informal workers – self-employed, wage employed and sub-contracted – this book sheds light on how many existing social contract models stigmatize informal workers and do not offer legal or social protection. Instead of ideologically driven ‘top-down’ calls to revitalize the social contract, it advocates for ‘bottom-up’ initiatives focused on the demands of the working poor in the informal economy.

With a wealth of cross-national evidence, as well as promising case studies, this timely and thought-provoking book will prove vital for scholars and researchers of informal workers and of state-capital-labour relations; and for policy makers negotiating new social contracts.

Critical Acclaim
‘An original and insightful contribution to rethinking the social contract. Instead of prescribing from above, the authors redirect attention to the perspective of informal workers, to their needs, demands and agency, and to the new realities of informality exposed by COVID-19, digital employment, and new forms of collective action.’
– Kate Meagher, London School of Economics, UK

'Informal work arrangements predominate in developing countries and are increasing in rich nations. How should we deal with this? This book makes a novel case for an approach based on social contracts that recognise informal workers as legitimate economic agents, and therefore include them in social dialogue and policy-making and rule-setting processes. Such imaginative thinking about informality is urgent and necessary.'
– Jayati Ghosh, University of Massachusetts Amherst, US

‘Most people work in the informal sector and yet our social contracts often exclude them. This volume provides compelling evidence from around the world as to why a better social contract for all of us would provide great security and opportunity for the world’s informal sector workers. A must read for those who care about creating a fairer world.’
– Minouche Shafik, London School of Economics, UK and author of What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract
Contributors
Contributors include: Laura Alfers, Françoise Carré, Taylor Cass Talbott, Martha (Marty) Chen, Salonie Muralidhara Hiriyur, Sophie Plagerson, Rachel Moussié, Ana Carolina Ogando, Sarah Orleans Reed, Sally Roever, Michael Rogan, Marlese von Broembsen
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