Speaker: Kate Meagher (London School of Economics)
Africa's expanding informal economy now accounts for over 70% of the non-agricultural labour force. However, notions of the informal economy as a lumpen group outside the class system have been challenged by evidence of the re-composition of the informal economy under market reforms, involving internal processes of class formation and penetration by middle class actors from the formal economy. Further changes have been triggered by interventions by labour unions in search of members, and by the corporate sector, who have begun to take an interest in the informal economy, not only as a new market at the 'bottom of the pyramid', but as a source of workers for penetrating that market. Reflections on shifting patterns of class formation within the informal economy will be based on research in southern and northern Nigeria.