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Travelling with the Argonauts

Informal Networks seen without a Vertical Lens

Małgorzata Irek

260 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-898-4 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Not Yet Published (June 2018)

eISBN 978-1-78533-899-1 eBook Not Yet Published

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“I find it very hard to fault this book. It is wide-ranging, while also having a consistent set of related arguments, and ethnographically exceptionally rich… An interesting and original work in many dimensions.” · Robert Parkin, University of Oxford


Drawing on rich ethnographic materials from longitudinal fieldwork on informal trading routes across Europe, Travelling with the Argonauts offers a new perspective in the research of the social space, reflecting on how best to investigate amorphous social phenomena, such as informal networks. Breaking with much current theory, the approach detailed here – the ‘Restricted Verticality Perspective’ – examines the horizontal dimension of social relations, and understands informality not as marginal or substandard, but as life itself, as the real experience of ordinary people.

Małgorzata Irek is a sociologist, anthropologist and philologist. For over thirty years, she has researched social phenomena connected with the informal economy, including ‘irregular’ migration, informal employment and informal networks. She has worked for the Free University of Berlin, the Jagiellonian University, Kraków, and the University of Oxford (among other institutions), and her publications include The European Roots of the Harlem Renaissance (1994) and Der Schmugglerzug (1998).

Subject: General Anthropology Theory & Methodology in Anthropology General Mobility Studies
Area: Europe



Chapter 1. The Restricted Verticality Perspective in Researching Informal Networks: Concepts, Definitions and Theoretical Approaches to Informality
Chapter 2. Empirical Research on Informal Social Phenomena and the Limitations of Formal Methods
Chapter 3. Exiting the Emic-Etic Logic: How to Conduct Successful Fieldwork on Informal Phenomena
Chapter 4. Thinking Beyond Sectors: Informal Economy and Informal Networks
Chapter 5. Escaping Locality: Ethnography beyond Systems, Zones, Countries and Sites
Chapter 6. Interfaces between the Formal and the Informal: Actors, Places and Routes



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