Introduction: social contracts and informal workers in the global South
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The Introduction to the book "Social contracts and informal workers in the global South" describes: the history and contemporary critiques of social contracts, and their relevance to informal workers today; the global scope and trends in informal employment; different institutional discourses regarding the drivers and future trajectories of the informal economy. Critical issues are discussed including state-citizen, state-capital and capital-labour relations, 'formalization', the identity of 'social contractors', and the substance of the social contract. Three applications of social contract theory to informal workers are outlined: first how existing conditions can be framed as a contract which enables the exploitation of informal workers; secondly what an ideal vision of a social contract could look like from the perspective of informal workers; and thirdly the actual processes of change in the direction of these ideals, as well as the constraints. The Introduction concludes with an overview of the book chapters.