Informal Economic order: Shadow States, Private Status States, States of Last Resort and Spinning States - a speculative discussion on S Asian case material

Date: Jun, 1997
ODID Working Paper No. 6
Author(s): Barbara Harriss-White (QEH)

Two notions of informal economy are introduced: i) petty unregistered activity and ii) the unaccounted economic activity of registered firms. The argument concerns the relations between the second type and the state. The informal economy of the powerful achieves order through a multiplicity of non-state regulative institutions as well as through state regulation. At the complex interface with the state, social relations of accommodation, sabotage, corruption and fraud create a nexus of interests with contradictory, countervailing capacities to the formal state's declared development project. Possibilities of shadow states, private status states, states of last resort and spinning states are discussed with reference to contemporary India. Such characterisations have implications for orthodox models and theories of state character and for existing conceptualisations of state reform, a radical overhaul of which is required.

ODID Author(s)