Polish Sociological Association & University of Warsaw
Warsaw, 13-14 May 2013
Venue: University of Warsaw,
Main Campus, Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28, Warsaw
In line with developments described below, the Workshop welcomes papers dealing with such topics as:
- Interactions of the formal and the informal in institutions and legal systems;
- Emergence, development and dissolution of formal organizations in the informal contexts;
- Formal management of informal pressures and informal incapacitation of formal norms and restraints;
- The role of social capital in formal social systems;
- Informal economy and the relation it bears to formal economy.
The interest in the formal and the informal spans across many sociological disciplines. In organization sociology, it has been a staple topic since the dawn of the field, reflected in such themes as the limits of bureaucracy, formal/informal leadership or formal/informal information flows. In sociology of law, the issue of informal working of legal institutions has also been a core problem, contributing to the very institutionalization of sociological studies of law, as opposed to lawyers' inquiries in its formal nature. Similarly, economic sociology has long been interested in investigating the exchange processes in informal economies, and the subtle relationships they have with the official ones. The Workshop intends to bring together these diverse interests and discourses and by doing so, to facilitate the confrontation of their theoretical assumptions and the empirical outcomes they produce.
It should not escape notice that many recent contributions to that theme, particularly in organization sociology and institutionalism, have broken with depicting informal institutions as mere epiphenomena of formal structures to explore the dynamics of the formal and the informal as self-contained realms. In this perspective, the interest is focused on the manner in which informal practices support, confront and oppose the formal sphere of conflicting logic. One impulse for such reorientation has been the interest in the formal in the studies of diffusion and institutional isomorphism, as well as decoupled and loosely coupled systems. Interestingly, this shift parallels earlier developments in sociology and anthropology of law, stressing the impossibility of purely formal, zweck-rational legal institutions and underlining the immanence of legal pluralism. In all said fields, the research topics converge, comprising such phenomena as: formal and informal constraints, rules and regulations, processes of formalization and de-formalization, informal exchanges in formal systems, formal and informal organizations in markets, ethnic economy and entrepreneurship and, lately, formalization of informal practices and transnational governance.
The Organizing Committee hopes the Workshop will contribute to the conceptual and theoretical enrichment of the studies of the informal and the formal, create an apt platform for revisiting well established assumptions and paradigms, and help opening new research sites for empirical investigation. Selected papers will be invited for publication in a themed volume.
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