Informality and governmentality: An ethnography of conversion entrepreneurship in Harare

Nyakuwa, Robert (2018-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: From its empirical and theoretical genealogy, informality has been proximate to poverty and illegality, hence it is associated with descriptions such as lumpenproletariat, (Neuwirth, 2011) ‘survivalist’, or ‘necessity’ (Berner et al., 2012) economy. By using largely a priori coded notions deployed on the poorer sections of the (mostly) urban population, most researchers miss emergent practices and some of the dynamism in other sections of the urban population where formality and informality are intentional. By means of an experimental visual ethnography using smart phones in Harare - Zimbabwe, this study documents informal entrepreneurship. It develops the concept of conversion entrepreneurship to illustrate agency by informal entrepreneurs in a dead economy through structuring innovative entrepreneurial activities in both formal and informal economic spheres. This concept reclaims and extends the economic anthropological notions drawn from Paul Bohannan (1955) and Fredrick Barth (1967) on spheres of exchange. It illustrates how ‘conversions’ are economic transactions by entrepreneurs targeted at areas of institutional incongruence. It affirms profit as a strong motivation for informal entrepreneurs to be innovative. The study observes that innovation is facilitated through processes of social embeddedness, which include forming entrepreneurial groups, deploying mobile phone payment systems and social networking applications as well as participating in church ‘cell’ groups. Churches can serve as business incubators, the study argues. Deploying a structuration epistemology, the study connects conversion entrepreneurs to governmentalities - technologies of governance. It shows how the indigenization governmentality is a morally coloured instrument of social exclusion. By deploying James Scott's (1985) ‘Weapons of the Weak’, the study shows how enterprises have become frontiers for political resistance against the kleptocratic Zimbabwean state. Through observing the embeddedness of conversion entrepreneurs within #ThisFlag social media mediated rebellion against the state in 2016, the study proves that structures can be altered out of the exercise of power by agents.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: sy empiriese en teoretiese genealogie is informaliteit naby armoede en illegaliteit geplaas en daarom geassosieer met beskrywings soos lumpenproletariat (Neuwirth, 2011) en die ‘oorlewings’-, of ‘noodsaak’-ekonomie (Berner et al., 2012). Omdat navorsers hoofsaaklik voorafgekodeerde begrippe toegepas het op die armer dele van die (gewoonlik) stedelike bevolking, het hulle meestal ontluikende praktyke en ‘n deel van die dinamiek misgekyk in ander dele van die stedelike bevolking waar formaliteit en informaliteit intensioneel is. Hierdie studie dokumenteer informele entrepreneurskap deur middel van ‘n eksperimentele visuele etnografie met gebruik van slimfone in Harare, Zimbabwe. Dit ontwikkel die konsep van omskakelingsentrepreneurskap om die agentskap van informele entrepreneurs in ‘n dooie ekonomie te illustreer deur hul strukturering van innovatiewe entrepreneuraktiwiteite in beide formele en informele ekonomiese sfere. Hierdie konsep eis die ekonomies-antropologiese begrippe wat van Paul Bohannan (1955) en Fredrick Barth (1967) oor die sfere van ruiling verkry is weer eens op en brei dit uit. Dit illustreer hoe ‘omskakelings’ ekonomiese transaksies is van entrepreneurs wat areas van institusionele inkongruensie teiken. Dit bevestig ook dat wins ‘n sterk motivering vir informele entrepreneurs is om innoverend te wees. Verder stel die studie vas dat innovering deur prosesse van sosiale inbedding gefasiliteer word wat die vorming van entrepreneursgroepe, die ontplooiing van slimfoon-betalingsisteme en –sosiale-netwerk-toepassings asook die deelname aan kerklike selgroepe insluit. Die studie argumenteer dat kerke as sake-inkubators kan dien. Met gebruik van ‘n strukturerings-epistemologie verbind die studie omskakelingsentrepreneurs aan regeringsbestuur – tegnologieë van regeer. Dit toon aan dat verinheemsingsbestuur ‘n moreel-gekleurde instrument van sosiale uitsluiting is. Met gebruik van James Scott (1985) se ‘Weapons of the Weak’ dui die studie aan hoe ondernemings voorposte vir politieke weerstand teen die kleptokratiese Zimbabwiese staat geword het. Deur die inbedding van omskakelingsentrepreneurs in die #ThisFlag sosiale media-gemedieerde rebellie teen die staat in 2016 te ondersoek, bewys die studie dat strukture deur die magsuitoefening van agente verander kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103391
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