Informal Sector, Petty Commodity Production, and the Social Relations of Small-scale Enterprise

  • Norman Long
  • Paul Richardson


A persistent challenge to the understanding of Third World economies is their heterogeneity as reflected in the co-existence and combination of many varied forms of production, distribution and exchange. Of the various attempts to analyse these multi-structured economies most have described a structure of economic duality. While some social scientists (e.g. Geertz, 1963; Santos, 1975; McGee, 1973) identify two ‘sectors’, ‘segments’ or ‘circuits’, Marxist writers (Dupre and Rey, 1973; Althusser and Balibar, 1970; Terray, 1972, 1975; Godelier, 1972 and 1975; Meillassoux, 1972) stress the articulation of what they call ‘dominant’ and ‘subordinate’ modes of production as represented by the coexistence of capitalist with non-capitalist forms. This paper offers a critical review of a number of theoretical and empirical issues arising from this literature, and indicates how the analysis of multi-structured economies might be further advanced through the examination of certain dimensions that have remained only peripherally explored.


Informal Sector Formal Sector Coordinate Pattern Latin American Study Capitalist Mode 


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman Long
  • Paul Richardson

There are no affiliations available

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