Volumes 1-2

The image is reproduced with permission of the Russian Museum at St Petersburg (zh-9573)



Anna Bailey, Sheelagh Barron, Costanza Curro and Elizabeth Teague

The cover features a painting by Pavel Filonov (born in Moscow in 1843, died in the siege of Leningrad in 1941). Filonov has been dubbed “The Seer of the Invisible.” We felt that his work is the nearest proxy to the social and cultural complexity we aim to capture. It tackles the paradox of the abstract and the natural, formularises what’s impossible to formalise, and visualises the invisible, hidden or taken for granted.


This book invites you on a voyage of discovery, to explore society’s open secrets, unwritten rules and know-how practices. Broadly defined as ‘ways of getting things done,’ these invisible yet powerful informal practices tend to escape articulation in official discourse. We have identified unique research into such practices; mapped the grey zones, blurred boundaries, types of ambivalence and contexts of complexity, thus creating the first Global Map of Informality. Our database is searchable by region, keyword or type of practice. Do explore what works, how, where and why!

The informal practices revealed in this book include emotion-driven exchanges of gifts or favours and tributes for services, interest-driven know-how (from informal welfare to informal employment and entrepreneurship), identity-driven practices of solidarity, and power-driven forms of co-optation and control. The paradox—or not—of the invisibility of these informal practices is their ubiquity. Expertly practised by insiders but often hidden from outsiders, informal practices are, as this book shows, deeply rooted all over the world, yet underestimated in policy. Entries from all five continents presented in this volume are samples of the truly global and ever-growing collection, made possible by a remarkable collaboration of over 200 scholars across disciplines and area studies.


List of contributors
Preface to the Encyclopaedia Acknowledgements
Introduction: Key Challenges and Main Findings of the Global Informality Project by Alena Ledeneva



The substantive ambivalence of the double think: social vs instrumental in the relationship. Preface by Alena Ledeneva
Chapter 1 Neither Gift Nor Commodity: The Instrumentality of Sociability

Introduction: Economies of Favours by Nicolette Makovicky and David Henig

1.1Blat (Russia) by Alena Ledeneva

1.2Jeitinho (Brazil) by Fernanda de Paiva Duarte

1.3Sociolismo (Cuba) by Matthew Cherneski

1.4Compadrazgo (Chile) by Larissa Adler Lomnitz

1.5Pituto (Chile) by Dana Brablec Sklenar

1.6Štela (Bosnia & Herzegovina) by Čarna Brković and Karla Koutkova

1.7Veza (Serbia) by Dragan Stanojevic and Dragana Stokanic

1.8Vrski (Macedonia) by Justin Otten

1.9Vruzki (Bulgaria) by Tanya Chavdarova

1.10Blat (South Caucasus) by Huseyn Aliyev

1.11Natsnoboba (Georgia) by Huseyn Aliyev

1.12Tanish-bilish (Uzbekistan) by Rano Turaeva

1.13Guanxi (China) by Mayfair Yang

1.14Inmaek/ Yonjul (South Korea) by Sven Horak

1.15Tapş (Azerbaijan) by Leyla Sayfutdinova

1.16Agashka (Kazakhstan) by Natsuko Oka

1.17Zalatwianie (Poland) by Paulina Pieprzyca

1.18Vitamin B (Germany) by Ina Kubbe

1.19Jinmyaku (Japan) by Sven Horak

1.20Jaan-pehchaan (India) by Denise Dunlap

1.21Aidagara (Japan) by Yoshimichi Sato

1.22Amici, amigos (Mediterranean and Latin America) by Christian Giordano

Conclusion: What is post-socialist and what is global in managing economies of favours? Sheila Puffer and Daniel McCarthy

Chapter 2 Neither Gift Nor Payment: The Sociability of Instrumentality

Introduction: Vernaculars of informality by Nicolette Makovicky and David Henig

2.1Okurimono no shûkan (Japan) by Katherine Rupp

2.2Songli (China) by Liang Han

2.3Hongbao (China) by Lei Tan

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

2.5Paid favours (UK) by Colin C.Williams

2.6Egunje (Nigeria) by Dhikru Adewale Yagboyaju

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

2.8Magharich’ (Armenia) by Meri Avetisyan

2.9Kalym (Russia) by Jeremy Morris

2.10Mita (Romanian Gabor Roma) by Péter Berta

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

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

2.13Mordida (Mexico) by Claudia Baez Camargo

2.14Coima (Argentina) by Cosimo Stahl

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

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

2.17Fakelaki (Greece) by Daniel M. Knight

2.18Cash for access (UK) by Jonathan Webb

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

2.20Bustarella (Italy) by Simona Guerra

2.21Dash (Nigeria) by Daniel Jordan Smith

Conclusion: Interested vs disinterested giving: defining reciprocity and pure gift in the connected worlds by Florence Weber


The normative ambivalence of the double standards: us vs them.
Preface by Alena Ledeneva
Chapter 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

3.3Uruuchuluk (Kyrgystan) by Aksana Ismailbekova

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

3.5Yongo (South Korea) by Sven Horak

3.6Kumstvo (Montenegro) by Klavs Sedlenieks

3.7Azganvan popokhutyun (Armenians in Georgia) by Anri Grigorian

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

3.9Bapakism (Indonesia) by Dodi W. Irawanto Closed Community lock-in

3.10Krugovaia poruka (Europe) by Geoffrey Hosking

3.11Janteloven (Scandinavia) by Morten Jakobsen

3.12Hyvä veli (Finland) by Besnik Shala

3.13Old-boy network (UK) by Philip Kirby

3.14Klüngel (Germany) by Lea Gernemann

3.15Vetterliwirtschaft/ Copinage (Switzerland) by Lucy Koechlin

3.16Tal (Serbia) by Danko Runic

3.17Mateship (Australia) by Bob Pease

Semi-closed lock-in

3.18Sitwa (Poland) Piotr Koryś and Maciej Tymiński

3.19Barone universitario (Italy) by Simona Guerra

3.20Keiretsu (Japan) by Katsuki Aoki

3.21Kanonieri qurdebi (Georgia) by Alexander Kupatadze

3.22Silovye Gruppirovki (Bulgaria) by Igor Mitchnik

3.23Omertà (Italy) by Anna Sergi

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

3.25Birzha (Georgia) by Costanza Curro

3.26Dizelaši (Serbia) by Elena G. Stadnichenko

3.27Normalnye patsany (Russia) by Svetlana Stephenson

3.28Futbolna frakcia (Bulgaria) by Kremena Iordanova

Conclusion: Organic Solidarity and Informality: Two irreconcilable concepts? by Christian Giordano

Chapter 4 The Unlocking Power of Non-Conformity: Cultural Resistance vs Political Opposition

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

4.1Artistic repossession (general) by Christina Ezrahi

4.2Magnitizdat (USSR) by James Higenbottam-Taylor

4.3Roentgenizdat (USSR) by James Higenbottam-Taylor

4.4Samizdat (USSR) by Jillian Forsyth

4.5Materit’sya (Russia) by Anastasia Shekshnya

4.6Padonki language (Russia) by Larisa Morkoborodova

4.7Verlan (France) by Rebecca Stewart

4.8Avos’ (Russia) by Caroline Humphrey

4.9Graffiti (general) by Milena Ciric

4.10Hacktivism (general) by Alex Gekker

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

Concluding remarks to Volume 1

What is old and what is new in the dialectics of ‘us’ and ‘them’? by Zygmunt Bauman



The functional ambivalence of the double deed: need vs greed.
Preface by Alena Ledeneva
Chapter 5 The System Made Me Do It: Strategies of Survival

Introduction: The puzzles of informal economy by Colin Marx

Informal dwelling

5.1Squatting (general) by Jovana Dicovic

5.2Schwarzwohnen (GDR) by Udo Grashoff

5.3Kraken (The Netherlands) by Hans Pruijt

5.4Allegados (Chile) by Ignacia Ossul

5.5Favela (Brazil) by Marta-Laura Suska

5.6Campamento (Chile) by Armando Caroca Fernandez

5.7Mukhayyam (OPT) by Lorenzo Navone and Federico Rahola

5.8Dacha (Russia) by Stephen Lovell

Informal welfare

5.9Pabirčiti (or pabirčenje) (Serbia, Croatia, B&H) by Jovana Dikovic

5.10Skipping (general, UK) by Giovanna Capponi

5.11Caffè sospeso (Italy) by Paolo Mancini

5.12Gap (Uzbekistan) by Timur Alexandrov

5.13Pomochi (Russia) by Irina V. Davydova

5.14Nachbarschaftschife (Germany) by Roland Arbesleitner

5.15Sosuydad (Philippines) by Ramon Felipe A. Sarmiento

5.16Vay mượn (Vietnam) by Abel Polese

5.17Loteria (Albania) by Drini Imami, Abel Polese and Klodjan Rama

5.18Esusu (Nigeria) by Evans Osabuohien and Oluyomi Ola-David

5.19Mahallah (Uzbekistan) by Rustamjon Urinboyev

5.20Tandas and Cundinas (Mexico) by Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez

5.21Salam credit (Afghanistan) by James McLeod-Hatch

5.22Obshchak (Russia) by Gavin Slade

Informal entrepreneurship

5.23Zarobitchanstvo (Ukraine) by Alissa Tolstokorova

5.24Rad-na-crno (Serbia) by Kosovka Ognjenović

5.25Small-scale-smuggling (general) by Bettina Bruns

5.26Chelnoki (Russia & FSU) by Anna Cieślewska

5.27Spaza shops (South Africa) by Vanya Gastrow

5.28Shebeens (South Africa) by Nicolette Peters

5.29Samogonovarenie (Russia) by Mark Lawrence Schrad

5.30Buôn có bạn, bán có phường (Vietnam) by Abel Polese

5.31Chợ cóc (Vietnam) by Gertrud Hüwelmeier

5.32Rod-re (Thailand) by Kisnaphol Wattanawanyoo

5.33Boda-boda taxis (Uganda) by Tom Goodfellow

5.34Stoyanshiki (Georgia) by Lela Rekhviashvili

5.35Baraholka (Kazakhstan) by Dena Sholk

5.36Budženje (Serbia/Bosnia-Herzegovina/Montenegro/Croatia) by Marko Zivković

5.37Jugaad governance (India) by Shahana Chattaraj

5.38Jangmadang (North Korea) by Sokeel Park and James Pearson

5.39Informal mining (general) by Alvin A. Camba

5.40Hawala (Middle East, India, Pakistan and Africa) by Nauman Farooqi

5.41Bitcoin (general) by Jean-Philippe Vergne and Gautam Swain

Conclusion: How do tools of evasion become instruments of exploitation? by Scott Radnitz

Chapter 6 Gaming the System: Strategies of Camouflage

Introduction: Gaming the system by Philip Hanson

Free-riding (staying under the radar)

6.1Cash-in-hand (general) by Colin C.Williams

6.2Blat (Romania) by Marius Wamsiedel

6.3Švercovanje (Serbia) by Ivana Spasić

6.4Deryban (Ukraine, Russia) by Olga Kesarchuk

6.5Fimi media (Croatia) by Ružica Šimić Banović

6.6Tangentopoli (Italy) by Liliana Onorato

Intermediation (partial compliance with the rules by creating invisibility)

6.7Brokerage (general) by David Jancsics

6.8Wāsta (Middle East) by James Redman

6.9Dalali (India) by Nicolas Martin

6.10Torpil (Turkey) by Onur Yay

6.11Gestion (Mexico) Tina Hilgers

6.12Pulling strings (UK/ USA) by Peter B. Smith

6.13Kombinacja (Poland) by Edyta Materka

6.14S vrutka (Bulgaria) by Lora Koycheva

6.15Raccomandazione (Italy) by Dorothy L. Zinn

6.16Insider trading (USA/general) by Ilya Viktorov

6.17Externe Personen (Germany) by Andreas Maisch

6.18Pantouflage (France) by Frédérique Alexandre-Bailly and Maral Muratbekova- Touron

6.19Stróman (Hungary) by David Jancsics

6.20Benāmi (India) by Kalindi Kokal

6.21No-Entry (India) by Nikhilesh Sinha and Indivar Jonnalagadda

6.22Repetitorstvo (Russia) by Eduard Klein

6.23Krysha (Russia and Post-Soviet states) by Yulia Zabyelina and Anna Buzhor Creating facades (partial compliance with the rules by visible camouflage)

6.24Window dressing (general) by David Leung

6.25Pripiski (Russia) by Mark Harrison

6.26Kupona (Kosovo) by Arianit Tolaj

6.27 Alga aploksnē (Latvia) by Klavs Sedlenieks

6.28Otkat (Russia) by Alexandra Vasileva

6.29Potemkin villages (Russia) by Jessica Pisano

6.30Astroturfing (USA, UK) by Anna Bailey and Sergei Samoilenko

6.31Dzhinsa (Russia) by Françoise Daucé

6.32Shpargalka (Russia) by Elena Denisova-Schmidt

Playing the letter of the rules against their spirit

6.33Pyramid Schemes (General) by Leonie Schiffauer

6.34Flipping (UK) by Jonathan Webb

6.35Reiderstvo (Russia and FSU) by Michael Mesquita

6.36Zakaznoe bankrotstvo (Russia) by Yuko Adachi

6.37Dangou (Japan) by Shuwei Qian

6.38Vzyatkoemkost’ (Russia) by Christian Timm

Conclusion: Methods of researching part-time crime and illicit economic activity by Gerald Mars

The motivational ambivalence: The blurring of the public and the private in the workings of informal power.
Preface by Alena Ledeneva
Chapter 7 Co-optation: Recruiting Clients and Patrons

Introduction: Carrots vs. sticks in patron-client networks by Paul M. Heywood

7.1Kormlenie (Russia) by Sergei Bogatyrev

7.2Kula (Tanzania) by Richard Faustine Sambaiga

7.3Old corruption (UK historical) by William Rubinstein

7.4Political machineries (USA historical) by Fran Osrecki

7.5Seilschaft (Germany) by Dieter Zinnbauer

7.6Parteibuchwirtschaft (Austria) by Roland Arbesleitner

7.7Tazkia (Iraqi Kurdistan) by Hemn Jameel

7.8Uhljeb (Croatia) by Ružica Šimić Banović

7.9Trafika (Czech Republic) by Alzbeta Semsch

7.10Padrino system (Philippines) by Pak-Nung Wong and Kristinne Joyce A. Lara-de-Leon

7.11Mafia Raj (India) by Lucia Michelutti

7.12Pork barreling (USA) by Andrew Sidman

7.13Tamozhenniye l’goty (Russia) by Anna Bailey

7.14Kumoterstwo (Poland) by Piotr Koryś and Maciej Tymiński

7.15Quàn jiǔ (China) by Nan Zhao

7.16Goudui and Yingchou (China) by John Osburg

Conclusion: Do patron-client relationships affect complex societies? by Elena Semenova

Chapter 8 Control: Instruments of Informal Governance

Introduction: Introduction: Choosing Sticks Over Carrots in Informal Governance by Klaus Segbers

8.1‘Brodiazhnichestvo’ (USSR) by Sheila Fitzpatrick with Sheelagh Barron

8.2Songbun (North Korea) by James Pearson and Daniel Tudor

8.3Dirt book (UK) by Anna Bailey

8.4Kompromat (Russia) by Michael Mesquita

8.5Chernukha (Russia) by Ilya Yablokov

8.6Character assassination (general) by Sergei Samoilenko, Martijn Icks, Eric Shiraev and Jennifer Keohane

8.7Psikhushka (USSR) by Robert van Voren

8.8Psikhushka (Russia) by Madeline Roache

8.9Zersetzung (GDR) by Udo Grashoff

8.10Smotryashchie, kuratory (Ukraine, Russia) by Andrew Wilson

8.11Telefonnoe pravo (Russia) by Alena Ledeneva with Ružica Šimić Banović and Costanza Curro

8.12Vertical crowdsourcing (Russia) by Gregory Asmolov

8.13Cyberattacks by semi state actors (general) by Alistair Faulkner

8.14Khokkeynaya diplomatiya (USA_Russia) by Yoshiko M. Herrera and Yuval Weber

8.15Politics of fear (Russia) by Vladimir Gelman

Conclusion: When do informal practices turn into informal institutions: Informal constitutions and informal ‘meta-rules’ by Scott Newton

Concluding remarks to Volume 2
Are some countries more informal than others? The case of Russia by Svetlana Baruskova and Alena Ledeneva


7 August 2016

Dear Authors,
I am writing with an update on the progress of the Global Informality project.
Number of entries: Under the leadership of Sheelagh Barron, who took over from Anna Bailey in June, the editorial team has made terrific progress and we are happy to report 163 completed and fully edited entries. We expect to be able to reach 200 entries in 2017.
Online version: Since June 2016, the development of the online version has been undertaken by UCL Digital Humanities interns Yang Liu and Adriana Bastarrachea Santez, to whom we are most grateful for updating and upgrading the database, and making it searchable. They have run into a number of technical difficulties with the sheer volume of tagging required for the entries. Yet we are still firmly on course to launch the online version of the Encyclopaedia in 2017, simultaneously with the publication of the print version, in order to maximise impact. The website will organize entries alphabetically and have an option for authors to add keywords.
Publication: In compliance with the UCL University Press contract, we will be submitting the first volume of our Encyclopaedia on the 1st of October. Once submitted, it will be sent to reviewers. Subject to positive reviews, the publication will take place in 2017. We aim to assemble 60 colourful images for the print volume and are grateful to our Web Wizard Anastasia Shekshnya, who has taken the lead on assembling the images in a variety of formats for both the print version and the website.
Anastasia has also managed to secure copyright permission to use an image by Pavel Filonov for the cover of the book.

The Formula of Spring

The complexity of this picture, The Formula of Spring, from the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, hints at the number of challenges for the volume:

Visualising Invisibility We thank all authors who have taken care (and time) to find images in order to visualise the invisibility of informality. See some further discussion on invisibility at

Dealing with complexity You will appreciate that we have undertaken a bottom-up approach to collecting research findings related to informality. The call for submissions was open and all entries will be included in the online version of the Encyclopaedia. To select material for the print version in a meaningful way has been perhaps the most challenging task. We will of course take into consideration suggestions from anonymous reviewers and the Press.

For now, we have been working in stages. We clustered similar patterns together, asking ourselves 'what is this practice the case of?' and then tried to organize entries according to the differences within the cluster. The outcome of such bottom-up structuring has been shaping up slowly (the work continues), but I am happy to report that the structure of the first print volume has emerged and we now have clusters of entries that we offer for conceptual and comparative analysis (according to the reviewers' recommendations I shared with you In Newsletter 3).

The list of conceptual pieces (some of them already commissioned) will include: The FRINGE Series: SOCIAL AND CULTURAL COMPLEXITY


PART I REDISTRIBUTION: relationship vs use of relationship
Substantive ambivalence (gift vs commodity)

Chapter 1 Neither Gift Nor Commodity: The Instrumentality of Sociability Introduction: Economies of Favours by Nicolette Makovicky and David Henig Conclusion: Managing favours in the global economy??? Chapter 2 Neither Gift Nor Payment: The Sociability of Instrumentality Introduction: Interpretations of gift and reciprocity by Florence Weber Conclusion: Languages of informality by Nicolette Makovicky and David Henig

PART II MARKET: need vs greed
Functional ambivalence (supportive vs subversive)
Chapter 3 The System Made Me Do It: Strategies of Survival
Introduction: Conclusion:
Chapter 4 Gaming the System: Strategies of Camouflage
Introduction: Gaming the system by Phil Hanson Conclusion on the Enabling Power of Constraints

Normative ambivalence (double standards)
Chapter 5 Conformity: The Weakness of Strong Ties
Introduction: Eric Gordy on the transformation of solidarity, identity politics and traps of belonging
Conclusion: Approached Christian Giordano???
Chapter 6 Self-Expression: The Innovative Power of Non-Conformity
Introduction on resistance capacity by Jan Kubik
Conclusion: On Us and Them by Zygmunt Bauman

PART IV DOMINATION: carrots vs sticks
Motivational ambivalence (public vs private)
Chapter 7 Cooptation: Recruiting Patrons and Clients
Introduction: Carrots vs. sticks in patron-client relationships by Paul Heywood: Conclusion: Informal
Governance and Hidden Constitutions by Scott Newman
Chapter 8 Control: Informal Governance
Introduction: Politics of Fear by Vladimir Gelman
Conclusion: Klaus Segbers Freie Universitat Berlinen

This structure allows us to make the print version (also going into the open access online from the date of publication) distinct from the website.

Handling Ambivalence
A feature that has come up as the most striking in our collection is the fact that each entry can be related to almost any structural part, and be characterised by all four types of ambivalence. Looking at our entries from the comparative perspective has allowed us to identify four types of ambivalence and the role they play in the blurring of boundaries and grey areas: double think, double deed, double standards and double purpose are all essential for the workings of informality.

Defining Informality Given the cross-discipline and cross-area nature of this project, it will probably be impossible to agree on a definition of informality agreeable to all. Please let me know if you have good definitions or great texts on the definition of informality. In the Encyclopaedia, we should probably acknowledge that we are using the word as an umbrella term for a variety of social and cultural phenomena that are too complex to be grasped in a single definition. However, to introduce the website I have come up with the following paragraph:

We invite you on a voyage of discovery of the world's open secrets, unwritten rules and hidden practices. Broadly defined as 'ways of getting things done,' these invisible, yet powerful informal practices tend to escape articulation in official discourse. We have identified unique research on such practices across disciplines and across areas and created the first Global Map of Informality. The database is searchable by region, keyword or type of practice. Do explore what works: how, where and why.

Do send me your thoughts and suggestions on the notion, definition, history, or theory of informality. If you have a favourite citation, author, typology, please do let me know.

World Map of Informality: The map continues to develop with the increasing number of entries submitted to the project. Do spread the word - we do need more!

The Informal Practices MA course is likely to further contribute to the map.

The FRINGE connection

In association with the FRINGE Centre, UCL Press is launching a new series of collective volumes, of which the Encyclopaedia is likely to be the first. To become a member of FRINGE to receive the Centre's newsletter, sign up at

More on the UCL Press FRINGE series:

We look forward to receiving the remaining entries promised for our 1st September deadline.

Thank you for all you help in this tough period before the submission.


Alena Ledeneva
Professor of Politics and Society University College London

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