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Structural Adjustment and Women Informal Sector Traders in Harare, Zimbabwe

Research Report S. No. 106

Format: Paperback
Publisher: The Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden
Published: 11th Apr 1999
Dimensions: w 147mm h 210mm
Weight: 204g
ISBN-10: 9171064354
ISBN-13: 9789171064356
Barcode No: 9789171064356
Synopsis
Drawing on the experiences of a population of women informal sector traders in Harare, Zimbabwe, the report documents patterns of differentiation within the sector amidst the generalised decline in working and living conditions associated with the structural adjustment programme. Most attempts at studying the informal sector have generally tended to emphasise the uniformity of the experiences of the people who operate within it. Where an effort has been made to develop a more nuanced understanding of the sector, as is the case with de Soto's study, the assumption has always been that the mobility of the operators is from lower to higher level activities that coincide with the tapping of increased opportunities for accumulation. This report challenges both the notion of the uniformity of the informal sector and of the unidirectional upward mobility of the informals. Drawing on the experiences of a population of women informal sector traders in Harare, Zimbabwe and using a longitudinal study approach, the report documents patterns of differentiation within the sector amidst the generalised decline in working and living conditions associated with the structural adjustment programme of the Zimbabwean state. Far from being a site of accumulation, the authors show that the informal sector during the era of adjustment is a site of bare survival in which the operators find themselves working ever longer hours for ever-diminishing incomes on which a multiplicity of competing claims are made within and outside the household.

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