Dr Umair Javed

UK Host Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science
Project status

Negotiating Informality: Bazaars and the State in Urban Pakistan

The persistence of economic activity outside of the purview of state regulation, documentation, and taxation in many countries of the Global South, i.e. the informal economy, is frequently explained as a systemic feature of neoliberal globalization and as a failure of tax governance on part of weak states. My proposed research on Pakistan seeks to move beyond a static, structural approach, focusing instead on informality as a political outcome, emerging through historical conflicts and dynamic negotiations between informal economy groups, key social and political intermediaries, and state functionaries at the national and local level. In other words, the 'failure of governance' can be reimagined as an outcome of politics rather than solely an outcome of weak technical capacity of government departments. Through my research I hope to shift discourse around the informal economy in Pakistan and elsewhere away from technocratic fixations and towards an appreciation of political realities and conflicts.

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