Marshy and Friends: Informality, Deformalisation and West Indian Island Experience

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5 Citations (Scopus)


In 1973 Jamaica was one of the most prosperous independent states in the Caribbean, but by 1990 it was bankrupt -- 'effectively in receivership' to its foreign creditors with an external debt of 4.5 billion US dollars. The intervening years have seen a decline in the ability of successive governments to promote social welfare and development. Formal control over economic policy has shifted to Washington and the IMF, while informal networks have emerged subverting state regulation. This article revisits Keith Hart's analysis of the informal economy through a description of Marshy, a Jamaican street vendor who specialises in steamed fish and bammy . It examines the experience of people caught between an unravelling state apparatus and global market interests indifferent to expectations of social justice. For Marshy and his friends, involvement in transnational informal networks involves a synthesis of the social and the economic that the 'free market' ideology denies: these networks represent a significant stake in a just global political economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255 - 270
JournalSocial Identities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2002


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