Chapter 5: Portraits of Underground Enterprise
INTRODUCTION What different types of underground worker can be identiﬁed? And in what sectors do they work? To answer these questions, this chapter transcends the conventional focus on which population groups engage in such work and moves towards an appreciation of both the various types of underground worker and the work that they undertake. In so doing, a signiﬁcant gap in the literature concerning the nature of the underground economy in western nations is ﬁlled. Conventional representations usually depict underground workers as low-paid employees working under exploitative sweatshop-like conditions. The widespread recognition that relatively afﬂuent populations do most of this work, however, begs the question of whether it is always low-paid, exploitative and sweatshop-like in character. Although recognition that underground work is frequently conducted on an autonomous basis has hinted that such a depiction is far from the lived reality, until now, few studies have identiﬁed either the proportion of underground work conducted on an organized and autonomous basis, or attempted to differentiate the various types of autonomous work. The ﬁrst section of this chapter thus seeks to answer these issues. Analysing the results of the English Localities Survey – one of the ﬁrst data sets to unpack the heterogeneous character of underground work in advanced economies – this chapter will reveal ﬁrst, that employees working on an off-the-books basis for formal or underground enterprises conduct only a very small proportion of all underground work and second, autonomous underground workers need to be differentiated according to their relations...
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