Table of contents


1 The research problem, theory and method
1.1 Introduction 9
African cities: crisis and reinvention 9
Globalizing informality 11
Research issues 13
1.2 Theoretical frame and research questions 14
Perspectives on expanding informality 14
A spatially and historically informed informality 18
Delimiting the informal 20
Inside the 'black box' of the informal sphere 21
The social networks research tradition 26
The politics of support mobilisation 28
Networks in the contemporary crisis 30
Scope and structure of the study 31
1.3 Research Methods 34
The household survey 36
Encounters with traders 37
Social networks as methodological tools 38
Secondary sources 41

2 A history of informality in Guinea-Bissau
2.1 Adapting (im)moral economies (–1915) 44
Bissau: the power of the unwritten rule 47
2.2 Colonial rule and informality (1915–1974) 50
Colonial Bissau: a city divided 53
2.3 The Party-state: engagement and disengagement (1974–83) 61
Bissau: "rice coup" and informalization 63
2.4 Conclusion 65

3 Informality in contemporary Guinea-Bissau
3.1 Structural adjustments and informalization of livelihoods 69
Changed urban living conditions 70
Revived informal and traditional forms of provisioning 72
Changed "informal sector" policy 73
Informalization of income activities 75
Informal actors remap the city 78
3.2 State and capital adjust 79
Informalization as accumulation strategy 83
3.3 Deepening contradictions and growing associational life 86
3.4 Conclusion 89

4 The study area: setting, living standards and livelihoods
4.1 Population growth and infrastructure 94
4.2 Livelihoods 99
Food trade activities 101
Combinations of sources of income and food 103
4.3 Living standards 108

5 Informal relations in food trade
5.1 The Informalization of urban food supply 116
'Falling off balance' 116
5.2 The relations with local government 119
5.3 Relations supporting market activities 124
The family embeddedness of small traders 124
Co-operation between sellers 127
Rotating savings groups 129
5.4 The rice sub-sector: fighting merchant capital 133
5.5 The fish sub-sector: informal regulation and differentiation 138
Sources of fish supply 138
Informal regulation at the artisanal port 139
5.6 The vegetable sub-sector: intricate forms of diversification 148
Access to land 150
Trade in vegetables 151
5.7 Conclusion 155

6 Social networks sustaining household consumption
6.1 Local configurations of assistance 160
Solidarity groups 160
Overview of social networks 164
6.2 Social connectivity as a variable of vulnerability 169
6.3 Multifaceted social relations of assistance 173
6.4 Social networks in times of crisis 176
6.5 Conclusion 182

7 Kin-based networks of assistance
7.1 Households, compounds and networks 188
7.2 Traditional divisions of rights and obligations 189
Traditional gender roles and expectations 190
Chiefs and commoners 191
Heads and members of compounds 192
7.3 Compounds as sites of support and inequality 192
7.4 Changes in kin assistance 196
Corporate kin groups 196
Changing structures of expectations 201
7.5 Wider processes, social struggles and traditional rights 206
Alternative livelihoods and identities 208
Market based livelihoods and networks 211
Dependence versus 'disengagement': a difficult equation 214
7.6 Urban-rural exchanges 216
7.7 Conclusion 223

8 Conclusions
8.1 Social processes of informalization in historical context 227
8.2 'Unpacking' social networks 234
Networks in times of crisis 238
Negotiating norms and networks 241
Getting over "social capital": the politics of support mobilisation 244
8.3 The informal as regulated 247
References 255
List of interviews with officials and members of organisations 274

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