The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality, Volumes 1 & 2

Edited by Alena Ledeneva

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ISBN: 9781787353602

Publication: January 24, 2018

Series: Fringe

Alena Ledeneva invites you on a voyage of discovery, to explore society’s open secrets, unwritten rules and know-how practices. Broadly defined as ‘ways of getting things done’, these invisible yet powerful informal practices tend to escape articulation in official discourse. They include emotion-driven exchanges of gifts or favours and tributes for services, interest-driven know-how (from informal welfare to informal employment and entrepreneurship), identity-driven practices of solidarity, and power-driven forms of co-optation and control. The paradox, or not, of the invisibility of these informal practices is their ubiquity. Expertly practised by insiders but often hidden from outsiders, informal practices are, as this book shows, deeply rooted all over the world, yet underestimated in policy. Entries from the five continents presented in this volume are samples of the truly global and ever-growing collection, made possible by a remarkable collaboration of over 200 scholars across disciplines and area studies.

By mapping the grey zones, blurred boundaries, types of ambivalence and contexts of complexity, this book creates the first Global Map of Informality. The accompanying database is searchable by region, keyword or type of practice, so do explore what works, how, where and why!

This volume incorporates volumes 1 and 2 of The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality.

Praise for The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality

‘The Global Informality Project unveils new ways of understanding how the state functions and ways in which civil servants and citizens adapt themselves to different local contexts by highlighting the diversity of the relationships between state and society. The project is of great interest to policymakers who want to imagine solutions that are beneficial for all, but sufficiently pragmatic to ensure a seamless implementation, particularly in the fi eld of cross-border trade in developing countries.’
Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the World Customs Organisation, Brussels

‘An extremely interesting and stimulating collection of papers. Ledeneva’s challenging ideas, first applied in the context of Russia’s economy of shortage, came to full blossom and are here contextualized by practices from other countries and contemporary systems. Many original and relevant practices were recognized empirically in socialist countries, but this book shows their generality.’
János Kornai, Allie S. Freed Professor of Economics Emeritus at Harvard and Professor Emeritus at Corvinus University of Budapest

‘Alena Ledeneva’s Global Encyclopedia of Informality is a unique contribution, providing a global atlas of informal practices through the contributions of over 200 scholars across the world. It is far more rewarding for the reader to discover how commonalities of informal behavior become apparent through this rich texture like a complex and hidden pattern behind local colors than to presume top down universal benchmarks of good versus bad behavior. This book is a plea againstreductionist approaches of mathematics in social science in general, and corruption studies in particular and makes a great read, as well as an indispensable guide to understand the cultural richness of the world.’
Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Professor of Democracy Studies, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin

‘Transformative scholarship in method, object, and consequence. Ledeneva and her networked expertise not only enable us to view the informal comparatively, but challenge conventionally legible accounts of membership, markets, domination and resistance with these rich accounts from five continents. This project offers nothing less than a social scientific revolution… if the broader scholarly community has the imagination to follow through. And by globalizing these informal knowledges typically hidden from view, the volumes’ contributors will extend the imaginations of those business consultants, movement mobilizers, and peace makers who can appreciate the value of translation from other world regions in their own work.’
Michael D. Kennedy, Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs, Brown University and author of Globalizing Knowledge

‘Don’t mistake these weighty volumes for anything directory-like or anonymous. This wonderful collection of short essays, penned by many of the single best experts in their fields, puts the reader squarely in the kinds of conversations culled only after years of friendship, trust, and with the keen eye of the practiced observer. Perhaps most importantly, the remarkably wide range of off erings lets us “de-parochialise” corruption, and detach it from the usual hyper-local and cultural explanations. The reader, in the end, is the one invited to consider the many and striking commonalities.’
Bruce Grant, Professor at New York University and Chair of the US National Council for East European and Eurasian Research

Alena Ledeneva is Professor of Politics and Society at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies of UCL. She is an internationally renowned expert on informal governance in Russia. Her research interests centre on corruption, informal economies, economic crime, informal practices in corporate governance, and the role of networks and patron-client relationships in Russia and around the globe. Her books, including How Russia Really Works: Informal Practices in the 1990s (2006) and Can Russia Modernize? Sistema, Power Networks and Informal Governance (2013) have become must-read sources in Russian studies and social sciences.

PART I Redistribution

The substantive ambivalence: relationships vs use of relationships

Preface by Alena Ledeneva  

1 Neither gift nor commodity: the instrumentality of sociability

Introduction: economies of favours by Nicolette Makovicky and David Henig

1.1 Blat (Russia) by Alena Ledeneva

1.2 Jeitinho (Brazil) by Fernanda de Paiva

1.3 Sociolismo (Cuba) by Matthew Cherneski

1.4 Compadrazgo (Chile) by Larissa Adler Lomnitz

1.5 Pituto (Chile) by Dana Brablec Sklenar

1.6 Štela (Bosnia and Herzegovina) by Čarna Brković and Karla Koutkova

1.7 Veza (Serbia) by Dragan Stanojevic and Dragana Stokanic

1.8 Vrski (Macedonia) by Justin Otten

1.9 Vruzki (Bulgaria) by Tanya Chavdarova

1.10 Natsnoboba (Georgia) by Huseyn Aliyev

1.11 Tanish-bilish (Uzbekistan) by Rano Turaeva

1.12 Guanxi (China) by Mayfair Yang

1.13 Inmaek/Yonjul (South Korea) by Sven Horak

1.14 Tapş (Azerbaijan) by Leyla Sayfutdinova

1.15 Agashka (Kazakhstan) by Natsuko Oka

1.16 Zalatwianie (Poland) by Paulina Pieprzyca

1.17 Vitamin B (Germany) by Ina Kubbe

1.18 Jinmyaku (Japan) by Sven Horak

1.19 Jaan-pehchaan (India) by Denise Dunlap

1.20 Aidagara (Japan) by Yoshimichi Sato

1.21 Amici, amigos (Mediterranean and Latin America) by Christian Giordano

Conclusion: managing favours in a global economy by Sheila M. Puffer and Daniel J. McCarthy

2 Neither gift nor payment: the sociability of instrumentality

Introduction: vernaculars of informality by Nicolette Makovicky and David Henig

125 2.1 Okurimono no shûkan (Japan) by Katherine Rupp

2.2 Songli (China) by Liang Han  

2.3 Hongbao (China) by Lei Tan

2.4 L’argent du carburant (sub-Saharan Africa) by Thomas Cantens

2.5 Paid favours (UK) by Colin C. Williams

2.6 Egunje (Nigeria) by Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju

2.7 Baksheesh (Middle East, North Africa and sub-continental Asia) by James McLeod-Hatch

2.8 Magharich’ (Armenia) by Meri Avetisyan

2.9 Kalym (Russia) by Jeremy Morris

2.10 Mita (Romanian Gabor Roma) by Péter Berta

2.11 Pozornost’/d’akovné/všimné (Slovakia) by Andrej Školkay

2.12 Biombo (Costa Rica) by Bruce M. Wilson and Evelyn Villarreal Fernández

2.13 Mordida (Mexico) by Claudia Baez-Camargo

2.14 Coima (Argentina) by Cosimo Stahl

2.15 Chorizo (Latin America) by Evelyn Villarreal Fernández and Bruce M. Wilson

2.16 Aploksne/aploksnīte (Latvia) by Iveta Kažoka and Valts Kalnins

2.17 Fakelaki (Greece) by Daniel M. Knight

2.18 Cash for access (UK) by Jonathan Webb

2.19 Korapsen (Papua New Guinea) by Grant W. Walton

2.20 Bustarella (Italy) by Simona Guerra

2.21 Dash (Nigeria and other West African countries) by Daniel Jordan Smith

Conclusion: ‘interested’ vs ‘disinterested’ giving: defining extortion, reciprocity and pure gifts in the connected worlds by Florence Weber

Part II: Solidarity

The normative ambivalence of double standards: ‘us’ vs ‘them’

Preface by Alena Ledeneva

3 Conformity: the lock-in effect of social ties

Introduction: group identity and the ambivalence of norms by Eric Gordy

Kinship lock-in

3.1 Adat (Chechnya) by Nicolè M. Ford

3.2 Ch’ir (Chechnya and Ingushetia) by Emil Aslan Souleimanov

3.3 Uruuchuluk (Kyrgyzstan) by Aksana Ismailbekova

3.4 Rushyldyq (Kazakhstan) by Dana Minbaeva and Maral Muratbekova-Touron

3.5 Yongo (South Korea) by Sven Horak

3.6 Kumstvo (Montenegro and the Balkans) by Klavs Sedlenieks

3.7 Azganvan popokhutyun (Armenian diaspora in Georgia) by Anri Grigorian

3.8 Wantoks and kastom (Solomon Islands, Melanesia) by Gordon Leua Nanau

3.9 Bapakism (Indonesia) by Dodi W. Irawanto

Closed community lock-in

3.10 Krugovaia poruka (Russia and Europe) by Geoffrey Hosking

3.11 Janteloven/Jantelagen (Scandinavia) by Morten Jakobsen

3.12 Hyvä Veli (Finland) by Besnik Shala

3.13 Old boy network (UK) by Philip Kirby

3.14 Klüngel (Germany) by Lea Gernemann

3.15 Vetterliwirtschaft/Copinage (Switzerland) by Lucy Koechlin

3.16 Tal (alt. taljenje, taliti, utaliti, rastaliti) (Serbia and countries of former Yugoslavia) by Danko Runić

3.17 Mateship (Australia) by Bob Pease

Semi-closed lock-in 277 3.18 Sitwa (Poland) by Piotr Koryś and Maciej Tymiński

3.19 Barone universitario (Italy) by Simona Guerra

3.20 Keiretsu (Japan) by Katsuki Aoki

3.21 Kanonieri qurdebi (Georgia) by Alexander Kupatadze

3.22 Silovye Gruppirovki (Bulgaria) by Igor Mitchnik

3.23 Omertà (Italy) by Anna Sergi

3.24 Nash chelovek (Russia) by Åse Berit Grødeland and Leslie Holmes

Modern and youth solidarities

3.25 Birzha (Georgia) by Costanza Curro

3.26 Dizelaši (Serbia) by Elena G. Stadnichenko

3.27 Normalnye patsany (Russia) by Svetlana Stephenson

3.28 Futbolna frakcia (Bulgaria) by Kremena Iordanova

Conclusion: organic solidarity and informality – two irreconcilable concepts? by Christian Giordano

Bibliography to Chapter 3

4 The unlocking power of non-conformity: cultural resistance vs political opposition

Introduction: the grey zones between cultural and political by Peter Zusi

4.1 Artistic repossession (general) by Christina Ezrahi

4.2 Magnitizdat (Russia) by James Taylor 342 x

4.3 Roentgenizdat (Russia) by James Taylor 346 4.4 Samizdat (USSR) by Jillian Forsyth

4.5 Materit’sya (Russia) by Anastasia Shekshnya

4.6 Padonki language (Russia) by Larisa Morkoborodova

4.7 Verlan (France) by Rebecca Stewart

362 4.8 Avos’ (Russia) by Caroline Humphrey

4.9 Graffiti (general) by Milena Ciric

4.10 Hacktivism (general) by Alex Gekker

Conclusion: ambiguities of accommodation, resistance and rebellion by Jan Kubik

Bibliography to Chapter 4

Concluding remarks to Volume 1: what is old and what is new in the dialectics of ‘us’ and ‘them’? Zygmunt Bauman



Part III Market

The functional ambivalence of informal strategies: supportive or subversive?

Preface by Alena Ledeneva

The system made me do it: strategies of survival

Introduction: the puzzles of informal economy by Colin Marx  

Informal dwelling

5.1 Squatting by Jovana Dikovic

5.2 Schwarzwohnen (GDR) by Udo Grashoff

5.3 Kraken (The Netherlands) by Hans Pruijt

5.4 Allegados (Chile) by Ignacia Ossul

5.5 Favela (Brazil) by Marta-Laura Suska

5.6 Campamento (Chile) by Armando Caroca Fernandez

5.7 Mukhayyam (occupied Palestinian territories and neighbouring Arab countries) by Lorenzo Navone and Federico Rahola

5.8 Dacha (Russia) by Stephen Lovell

Informal welfare

5.9 Pabirčiti (or pabirčenje) (Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina) by Jovana Dikovic

5.10 Skipping (general) by Giovanna Capponi

5.11 Caffè sospeso (Italy) by Paolo Mancini

5.12 Gap (Uzbekistan) by Timur Alexandrov

5.13 Pomochi (Russia) by Irina V. Davydova

5.14 Nachbarschaftschilfe (Germany and German-speaking countries) by Roland Arbesleitner

5.15 Sosyudad (Philippines) by Ramon Felipe A. Sarmiento

5.16 Vay mưon (Vietnam) by Abel Polese

5.17 Loteria / Lloteria (Albania) by Drini Imami, Abel Polese and Klodjan Rama

5.18 Esusu (Nigeria) by Evans Osabuohien and Oluyomi Ola-David

5.19 Mahalla (Uzbekistan) by Rustamjon Urinboyev

5.20 Tandas and cundinas (Mexico and south-western USA) by Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez

5.21 Salam credit (Afghanistan) by James McLeod-Hatch

5.22 Obshchak (Russia) by Gavin Slade 80 Informal entrepreneurship

5.23 Zarobitchanstvo (Ukraine) by Alissa Tolstokorova

5.24 Rad na crno (Serbia) by Kosovka Ognjenović

5.25 Small-scale smuggling (general) by Bettina Bruns

5.26 Chelnoki (Russia and FSU) by Anna Cieślewska

5.27 Spaza shops (South Africa) by Vanya Gastrow

5.28 Shebeens (South Africa) by Nicolette Peters

5.29 Samogonovarenie (Russia) by Mark Lawrence Schrad

5.30 Buôn có ban, bán có phường (Vietnam) by Abel Polese

5.31 Cho cóc (Socialist Republic of Vietnam) by Gertrud Hüwelmeier

5.32 Rod-re (Thailand) by Kisnaphol Wattanawanyoo

5.33 Boda-boda taxis (Uganda) by Tom Goodfellow

5.34 Stoyanshiki (Georgia) by Lela Rekhviashvili

5.35 Baraholka (Kazakhstan) by Dena Sholk

5.36 Budženje (Serbia) by Marko Zivković

5.37 Jugaad (India) by Shahana Chattaraj

5.38 Jangmadang (North Korea) by Sokeel Park and James Pearson

5.39 Informal mining (general) by Alvin A. Camba

5.40 Hawala (Middle East, India and Pakistan) by Nauman Farooqi

5.41 Bitcoin (general) by Jean-Philippe Vergne and Gautam Swain 1

Conclusion: how do tools of evasion become instruments of exploitation? by Scott Radnitz

Gaming the system: strategies of camouflage

Introduction: gaming the system by Philip Hanson

Free-riding (staying under or over the radar)

6.1 Cash in hand (general) by Colin C. Williams

6.2 Blat (Romania) by Marius Wamsiedel

6.3 Švercovanje (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro) by Ivana Spasić

6.4 Deryban (Ukraine, Russia) by Olga Kesarchuk

6.5 Fimi Media (Croatia) by Ružica Šimić Banović

6.6 Tangentopoli (Italy) by Liliana Onorato

Intermediation (partial compliance with the rules by creating invisibility)

6.7 Brokerage (general) by David Jancsics

6.8 Wāsṭa (Middle East, North Africa) by James Redman

6.9 Dalali (India) by Nicolas Martin

6.10 Torpil (Turkey) by Onur Yay

6.11 Gestión (Mexico) by Tina Hilgers

6.12 Pulling strings (UK/USA) by Peter B. Smith

6.13 Kombinacja (Poland) (alt. kombinacya, kombinowanie, kombinować) by Edyta Materka

6.14 S vrutka (Bulgaria) by Lora Koycheva

6.15 Raccomandazione (Italy) by Dorothy L. Zinn

6.16 Insider trading (USA/general) by Ilja Viktorov

6.17 Externe Personen (Germany) by Andreas Maisch

6.18 Pantouflage (France) by Frédérique Alexandre-Bailly and Maral Muratbekova-Touron

6.19 Stróman (Hungary) by David Jancsics

6.20 Benāmi (India) by Kalindi Kokal

6.21 No entry (India) by Nikhilesh Sinha and Indivar Jonnalagadda  

6.22 Repetitorstvo (Russia and FSU) by Eduard Klein

6.23 Krysha (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) by Yulia Zabyelina and Anna Buzhor

Creating façades (partial compliance with the rules by visible camouflage)

6.24 Window dressing (general) by David Leung

6.25 Pripiski (Russia) by Mark Harrison

6.26 Kupona (Kosovo) by Arianit Tolaj

6.27 Alga aploksnē (Latvia) by Klavs Sedlenieks

6.28 Vzaimozachety (Russia) by Caroline Dufy

6.29 Otkat (Russia) by Alexandra Vasileva

6.30 Potemkin villages (Russia) by Jessica T. Pisano

6.31 Astroturfing (USA/UK) by Anna Bailey and Sergei Samoilenko

6.32 Dzhinsa (Russia) by Françoise Daucé

6.33 Shpargalka (Russia) by Elena Denisova-Schmidt

6.34 Pyramid schemes (general) by Leonie Schiffauer

Playing the letter of the rules against their spirit

6.35 Flipping (UK) by Jonathan Webb

6.36 Reiderstvo (Russia and FSU) by Michael Mesquita

6.37 Zakaznoe bankrotstvo (Russia) by Yuko Adachi  

6.38 Dangou/Dango (Japan) by Shuwei Qian

6.39 Vzyatkoemkost’ (Russia) by Christian Timm

Conclusion: methods of researching part-time crime and illicit economic activity by Gerald Mars

PART IV Domination

The motivational ambivalence: the blurring of the public and the private in the workings of informal power

Preface by Alena Ledeneva

7 Co-optation: recruiting clients and patrons

Introduction: carrots versus sticks in patron–client networks by Paul M. Heywood

7.1 Kormlenie (Russia) by Sergei Bogatyrev

7.2 Kula (Tanzania) by Richard Faustine Sambaiga 7.3 Old corruption (UK historical) by William Rubinstein

7.4 Political machineries (USA historical) by Fran Osrecki

7.5 Seilschaft (Germany) by Dieter Zinnbauer

7.6 Parteibuchwirtschaft (Austria and Germany) by Roland Arbesleitner

7.7 Tazkia (Iraqi Kurdistan) by Hemn Namiq Jameel

7.8 Uhljeb (Croatia) by Ružica Šimić Banović

7.9 Trafika (Czech Republic) by Alzbeta Semsch

7.10 Padrino system/balimbing (Philippines) by Pak Nung Wong and Kristine A. Joyce Lara-de-Leon

7.11 Mafia Raj/Goonda Raj (India/South Asia) by Lucia Michelutti

7.12 Pork barreling (USA) by Andrew H. Sidman

7.13 Tamozhenniye l’goty (Russia) by Anna Bailey

7.14 Kumoterstwo and kolesiostwo (Poland) by Piotr Koryś and Maciej Tymiński

7.15 Quàn jiǔ (China) by Nan Zhao  

7.16 Sadghegrdzelo (Georgia) by Florian Müehlfried  

7.17 Goudui and Yingchou (China) by John Osburg

Conclusion: do patron–client relationships affect complex societies? by Elena Semenova

8 Control: instruments of informal governance

Introduction: politics of fear by Vladimir Gelman  

8.1 Brodiazhnichestvo (Russia) by Sheila Fitzpatrick with Sheelagh Barron

8.2 Songbun (North Korea) by James Pearson and Daniel Tudor

8.3 Dirt book (UK) by Anna Bailey

8.4 Kompromat (Russia) by Michael Mesquita

8.5 Chernukha (Russia) by Ilya Yablokov and Nadezhda Dreval

8.6 Character assassination (general) by Sergei Samoilenko, Eric Shiraev, Jennifer Keohane and Martijn Icks

8.7 Psikhushka (USSR) by Robert van Voren

8.8 Psikhushka (Russia) by Madeline Roache

8.9 Zersetzung (GDR) by Udo Grashoff

8.10 Smotryashchie, kuratory (Russia, Ukraine) by Andrew Wilson

8.11 Telefonnoe pravo (Russia) by Alena Ledeneva with Ružica Šimić Banović and Costanza Curro

8.12 Tsartsaani nüüdel (Mongolia) by Liz Fox

8.13 Vertical crowdsourcing (Russia) by Gregory Asmolov

8.14 Cyberattacks by semi-state actors (general) by Alistair Faulkner

8.15 Khokkeynaya diplomatiya (Russia) by Yoshiko M. Herrera and Yuval Weber

Conclusion: when do informal practices turn into informal institutions? Informal constitutions and informal ‘meta-rules’ by Scott Newton

Bibliography to Chapter 8

Concluding remarks to Volume 2: are some countries more informal than others? The case of Russia Svetlana Baruskova and Alena Ledeneva



‘The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality represents the beginning of a new era in informality studies. With its wealth of information, diversity, scope, theoretical innovation and artistic skill, this collection touches on all the aspects of social and cultural complexity that need to be integrated into policy thinking.’ 

Predrag Cvetičanin  

'An impressive, informative, and intriguing collection. With evident passion and patience, the team of 250 researchers insightfully portrays the multiplicity of informal and often invisible expressions of human interdependence.'


Subramanian Rangan  

'An impressive, informative, and intriguing collection. With evident passion and patience, the team of 250 researchers insightfully portrays the multiplicity of informal and often invisible expressions of human interdependence.'

Subi Rangan  

This is a monumental achievement – an indispensable reference for anyone in the social sciences interested in informality.'



'Institutions - or 'rules of the game' - are fundamental for economic development and growth. While social scientists have made major progress in studying formal institutions, documenting and analysing informal institutions is by definition much harder. The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality is a foundational contribution to this field. Alena Ledeneva and her colleagues have created - and will continue to enhance online - a register of informal practices in different countries. This is a treat for any scholar  interested in how social interactions really function.'


'Don’t mistake these weighty volumes for anything directory-like or anonymous. This wonderful collection of short essays, penned by many of the single best experts in their fields, puts the reader squarely in the kinds of conversations culled only after years of friendship, trust, and with the keen eye of the practiced observer. Perhaps most importantly, the remarkably wide range of offerings lets us 'de-parochialise' corruption, and detach it from the usual hyper-local and cultural explanations. The reader, in the end, is the one invited to consider the many and striking commonalities.'


Bruce Grant  

'Alena Ledeneva's  Global Encyclopedia of Informality is a unique contribution, providing a global atlas of informal practices through the contributions of  over 200 scholars across the world. It is far more rewarding for the reader to discover how commonalities of informal behavior become apparent through this rich texture like a complex and hidden pattern behind local colors than to presume top down universal benchmarks of good versus bad behavior.  This book is a plea against reductionist approaches of mathematics in social science in general, and corruption studies in particular and makes a great read, as well as an indispensable guide to understand the cultural richness of the world.'


Alina Mungiu-Pippidi  

'This compendium of terms used in different cultures to express aspects of informal economy provides unique supplement to studies of a major yet badly understated by academic economics’ social issue. It will be of major significance for in-depth teaching of sociology, economics and history.'

Teodor Shanin  

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

1038 Pages

ISBN: 9781787353602

Publication: January 24, 2018

Series: Fringe

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