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The Architecture of Illegal MarketsTowards an Economic Sociology of Illegality in the Economy$
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Jens Beckert and Matías Dewey

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198794974

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198794974.001.0001

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Illegal Prices

Illegal Prices

The Social Contestation of High Living Costs in Guadeloupe and Mauritania

Chapter:
(p.268) 14 Illegal Prices
Source:
The Architecture of Illegal Markets
Author(s):

Boris Samuel

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198794974.003.0014

Between 2005 and 2010, Mauritania and Guadeloupe faced massive social mobilizations against the high cost of living. The widespread use of illegal practices was blamed for the unjust pricing of some of the most important consumer goods. While state responses to illegality had limited success, the interfaces between legality and illegality in markets appeared to shape social and political relations. In Guadeloupe, a wave of audits responded to the social demands for transparency and the unveiling of illegal practices. But illegalities remained largely unsanctioned, enabling the continued coexistence of legality and illegality in price formation. In Mauritania, public interventions were necessary to contain the social and political consequences of price hikes. But circumvention of the rules was so common in the public administration that fraudulent practices characterized the implementation of such social programs too. Illegal market transactions became one of the means by which the government organized redistribution.

Keywords:   illegality, sociology of prices, social policies, audits, high prices, Africa, Caribbean, social mobilizations, inequalities, price formation

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