Rethinking informality in time of crisis and changes : self-employment and petty entrepreneurship in Havana
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My research reviews the current literature on cuentapropismo (self-employment) in Havana and some of the existing theories of informality. My major goal is to see how well such theories explain the Havana case. Traditional approaches to understanding the informal economy do not fit Havana, which is distinct in terms of (1) social class structure, (2) social demography, (3) the relations between the formal and informal sectors, and (4) the relations between the informal economy and globalization. My research also examines the nature of informality and entrepreneurship and argues that the former supports the latter in three ways: overexploitation, invisibility and informal social network. These three elements apply to previous state employees who quit state jobs to enter the informal sector. In a context of neoliberal reforms and the consolidation of urbanization in Latin American countries, I conclude that it is necessary to theorize the experience of these informal entrepreneurs who previously worked in the formal sector and whose human capital and expectations separate them from earlier rural-origin migrants of the 1960s.