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Economies of Favour after Socialism$
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David Henig and Nicolette Makovicky

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687411

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687411.001.0001

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The ‘Shadows’ of Informality in Rural Poland

The ‘Shadows’ of Informality in Rural Poland

(p.203) 10 The ‘Shadows’ of Informality in Rural Poland
Economies of Favour after Socialism

Nicolette Makovicky

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses particularly on moments when the usual ‘reciprocity of sentiment’ between persons breaks down and conflicts ensue. Exploring relations between artisans and commercial traders of ‘folky’ crochet lace in a Polish village, the author argues that the social significance gestures might best be approached as idiomatic, rather than as systemic or typological. The lace industry, Makovicky shows, is run predominantly on the unregistered labour of kin and community members. Artisans and traders collude to circumvent the letter of the law, often granting favours in order to direct employment and trade their way. Gratuitous action thus becomes articulated with petty economic crime. Such informalization accommodates enterprise within community relations, but also creates internal competition for employment and profit. As artisans and entrepreneurs struggle to make ends meet, several conflicting registers of contract and affect are set into play and the meaning of gratuitous gestures becomes a point of contention.

Keywords:   artisans, favours, gratuity, informality, informalization, idiomatic, contract, affect, lace

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