Skip to main content
Shopping cart: items Cart

Distributed for UCL Press

The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality, Volume I

Towards Understanding of Social and Cultural Complexity

Broadly defined as “ways of getting things done,” the invisible yet powerful concepts of “informal practices” tend to escape articulation in official discourse. These practices include emotion-driven exchanges of gifts or favours and tributes for services, interest-driven know-how (from informal welfare to informal employment), identity-driven practices of solidarity, and power-driven forms of co-optation and control. Yet, the possible paradox of the indiscernibility of these informal practices is their ubiquity. Alena Ledeneva’s wholly unique two-volume work collaborates with over two hundred scholars across five continents, illustrating how informal practices are deeply embedded across the globe yet still remain underestimated in policy-making procedures.      

452 pages | 35 illustrations | 6 x 9 1/4 | © 2018

Free digital open access editions are available to download from UCL Press.

Political Science:

UCL Press image

View all books from UCL Press


"This unique work . . . illustrat[es] how informal practices are deeply embedded across the planet, playing a crucial role in truly 'getting anything done' while still remaining underestimated in policy-making procedures and business life. The book puts international human behavior into perspective, and is wholly mesmerizing."

Philadelphia magazine

Table of Contents

"PART I Redistribution

The substantive ambivalence: relationships vs use of relationships

Preface by Alena Ledeneva

1 Neither gift nor commodity: the instrumentality of sociability

Introduction: economies of favours by Nicolette Makovicky and David Henig

1.1 Blat (Russia) by Alena Ledeneva

1.2 Jeitinho (Brazil) by Fernanda de Paiva

1.3 Sociolismo (Cuba) by Matthew Cherneski

1.4 Compadrazgo (Chile) by Larissa Adler Lomnitz

1.5 Pituto (Chile) by Dana Brablec Sklenar

1.6 Štela (Bosnia and Herzegovina) by Carna Brkovic and Karla Koutkova

1.7 Veza (Serbia) by Dragan Stanojevic and Dragana Stokanic

1.8 Vrski (Macedonia) by Justin Otten

1.9 Vruzki (Bulgaria) by Tanya Chavdarova

1.10 Natsnoboba (Georgia) by Huseyn Aliyev

1.11 Tanish-bilish (Uzbekistan) by Rano Turaeva

1.12 Guanxi (China) by Mayfair Yang

1.13 Inmaek/Yonjul (South Korea) by Sven Horak

1.14 Taps (Azerbaijan) by Leyla Sayfutdinova

1.15 Agashka (Kazakhstan) by Natsuko Oka

1.16 Zalatwianie (Poland) by Paulina Pieprzyca

1.17 Vitamin B (Germany) by Ina Kubbe

1.18 Jinmyaku (Japan) by Sven Horak

1.19 Jaan-pehchaan (India) by Denise Dunlap

1.20 Aidagara (Japan) by Yoshimichi Sato

1.21 Amici, amigos (Mediterranean and Latin America) by Christian Giordano

Conclusion: managing favours in a global economy by Sheila M. Puffer and Daniel J. McCarthy

2 Neither gift nor payment: the sociability of instrumentality

Introduction: vernaculars of informality by Nicolette Makovicky and David Henig

125 2.1 Okurimono no shûkan (Japan) by Katherine Rupp

2.2 Songli (China) by Liang Han

2.3 Hongbao (China) by Lei Tan

2.4 L’argent du carburant (sub-Saharan Africa) by Thomas Cantens

2.5 Paid favours (UK) by Colin C. Williams

2.6 Egunje (Nigeria) by Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju

2.7 Baksheesh (Middle East, North Africa and sub-continental Asia) by James McLeod-Hatch

2.8 Magharich’ (Armenia) by Meri Avetisyan

2.9 Kalym (Russia) by Jeremy Morris

2.10 Mita (Romanian Gabor Roma) by Péter Berta

2.11 Pozornost’/d’akovné/všimné (Slovakia) by Andrej Školkay

2.12 Biombo (Costa Rica) by Bruce M. Wilson and Evelyn Villarreal Fernández

2.13 Mordida (Mexico) by Claudia Baez-Camargo

2.14 Coima (Argentina) by Cosimo Stahl

2.15 Chorizo (Latin America) by Evelyn Villarreal Fernández and Bruce M. Wilson

2.16 Aploksne/aploksnite (Latvia) by Iveta Kažoka and Valts Kalnins

2.17 Fakelaki (Greece) by Daniel M. Knight

2.18 Cash for access (UK) by Jonathan Webb

2.19 Korapsen (Papua New Guinea) by Grant W. Walton

2.20 Bustarella (Italy) by Simona Guerra

2.21 Dash (Nigeria and other West African countries) by Daniel Jordan Smith

Conclusion: ‘interested’ vs ‘disinterested’ giving: defining extortion, reciprocity and pure gifts in the connected worlds by Florence Weber

Part II: Solidarity

The normative ambivalence of double standards: ‘us’ vs ‘them’

Preface by Alena Ledeneva

3 Conformity: the lock-in effect of social ties

Introduction: group identity and the ambivalence of norms by Eric Gordy

Kinship lock-in

3.1 Adat (Chechnya) by Nicolè M. Ford

3.2 Ch’ir (Chechnya and Ingushetia) by Emil Aslan Souleimanov

3.3 Uruuchuluk (Kyrgyzstan) by Aksana Ismailbekova

3.4 Rushyldyq (Kazakhstan) by Dana Minbaeva and Maral Muratbekova-Touron

3.5 Yongo (South Korea) by Sven Horak

3.6 Kumstvo (Montenegro and the Balkans) by Klavs Sedlenieks

3.7 Azganvan popokhutyun (Armenian diaspora in Georgia) by Anri Grigorian

3.8 Wantoks and kastom (Solomon Islands, Melanesia) by Gordon Leua Nanau

3.9 Bapakism (Indonesia) by Dodi W. Irawanto

Closed community lock-in

3.10 Krugovaia poruka (Russia and Europe) by Geoffrey Hosking

3.11 Janteloven/Jantelagen (Scandinavia) by Morten Jakobsen

3.12 Hyvä Veli (Finland) by Besnik Shala

3.13 Old boy network (UK) by Philip Kirby

3.14 Klüngel (Germany) by Lea Gernemann

3.15 Vetterliwirtschaft/Copinage (Switzerland) by Lucy Koechlin

3.16 Tal (alt. taljenje, taliti, utaliti, rastaliti) (Serbia and countries of former Yugoslavia) by Danko Runic

3.17 Mateship (Australia) by Bob Pease

Semi-closed lock-in 277 3.18 Sitwa (Poland) by Piotr Korys and Maciej Tyminski

3.19 Barone universitario (Italy) by Simona Guerra

3.20 Keiretsu (Japan) by Katsuki Aoki

3.21 Kanonieri qurdebi (Georgia) by Alexander Kupatadze

3.22 Silovye Gruppirovki (Bulgaria) by Igor Mitchnik

3.23 Omertà (Italy) by Anna Sergi

3.24 Nash chelovek (Russia) by Åse Berit Grødeland and Leslie Holmes

Modern and youth solidarities

3.25 Birzha (Georgia) by Costanza Curro

3.26 Dizelaši (Serbia) by Elena G. Stadnichenko

3.27 Normalnye patsany (Russia) by Svetlana Stephenson

3.28 Futbolna frakcia (Bulgaria) by Kremena Iordanova

Conclusion: organic solidarity and informality – two irreconcilable concepts? by Christian Giordano

Bibliography to Chapter 3

4 The unlocking power of non-conformity: cultural resistance vs political opposition

Introduction: the grey zones between cultural and political by Peter Zusi

4.1 Artistic repossession (general) by Christina Ezrahi

4.2 Magnitizdat (Russia) by James Taylor 342 x

4.3 Roentgenizdat (Russia) by James Taylor 346 4.4 Samizdat (USSR) by Jillian Forsyth

4.5 Materit’sya (Russia) by Anastasia Shekshnya

4.6 Padonki language (Russia) by Larisa Morkoborodova

4.7 Verlan (France) by Rebecca Stewart

362 4.8 Avos’ (Russia) by Caroline Humphrey

4.9 Graffiti (general) by Milena Ciric

4.10 Hacktivism (general) by Alex Gekker

Conclusion: ambiguities of accommodation, resistance and rebellion by Jan Kubik

Bibliography to Chapter 4

Concluding remarks to Volume 1: what is old and what is new in the dialectics of ‘us’ and ‘them’? Zygmunt Bauman



Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press