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Publication Details

Palmi, Renato (2006) Stitching For Survival: H ome-Based Clothing O perations in the Informal Economy. Centre for Civil Society Colloquium on the Economy, Society and Nature: 1-19.

This paper reflects on the literature available on the informal economy, both globally and within the South African context, and sets out to establish links between the literature and lived realities in this arena. The common thread throughout the paper is the focus on the clothing and textile industries; in particular, the experience and perspectives of two female home-based workers Jane* and Ann* are documented. The paper also discusses how globalisation, trade liberalisation, and both illegal and legal imports of cheaper goods are impacting on the formal and informal dimensions of this economic sector and their impacts on the operations of the two home-based initiatives cited in this paper.

Through interviews with the two key informants, it was established that the obstacles facing informal workers are common, whether they be based in urban or rural areas. Their accounts, and that of an official from the eThekwini Municipality who is tasked with regularising support for informal trading, indicate that the global and local value chains in the context of clothing are not only placing pressure on formal businesses, but also on informal businesses.

These accounts also mention that in the local setting, some companies exploit the informal sector for monetary gain through the casualisation of labour.

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