International Development Planning Review

The inventiveness of informality: an introduction

International Development Planning Review (2021), 43, (1), 1–12.


In this introduction I set the scene for the five full papers that appear in this special issue. Noting the lack of major overlaps in the concerns of different strands of literature as they address issues of urban economic informality, I argue the need for an interdisciplinary dialogue for uncovering aspects of the ingenuity, innovation and inventiveness found among informal businesses in the global South. I also argue the need to move beyond polar opposite perspectives on the radical inventiveness of businesses on the one hand and the purely imitative or survivalist behaviour of businesses on the other hand.

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Author details

Phelps, Nicholas A.