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Wage labor and social inequality in Kinshasa's informal economy: A class analysis

Héritier Mesa

ULB Institutional Repository from ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Abstract: This article explores the social trajectories of some “informal workers” and the dynamics of inequality they highlight. The study investigates how the structure of labor relations reveal class relations and unequal social positionalities more broadly within the informal economy. The research draws from ethnographic data collected about three forms of income-generating activities in Kinshasa: street bread, second-hand clothing, and urban agriculture. While access to capital offers some the opportunity to successfully develop a profitable income-generating activity, the limited access to various forms of capital constrains many to sell their labor power—often with weakened bargaining power—to those in possession of capital. Conversely, some actors have successfully overcome the constraint of the forms of asymmetric labor relations within the informal economy and secured a relatively decent living despite their precarious position.

Keywords: Democratic Republic of Congo; informal economy; Kinshasa; labor; social class; social inequality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022-09-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hme and nep-iue
Note: SCOPUS: ar.j
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Published in: Cahiers d'études africaines (2022) v.245-246 n° 1-2,p.319-340

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