Accepted paper:

Illegal yet licit: justifying informal purchases of work in contemporary Sweden


Lotta Björklund Larsen (Linköping University)

Paper abstract:

'Svart arbete', informal purchases of work, is a widely debated societal phenomenon in Sweden. It is often seen as detrimental to contemporary welfare society, eroding taxpaying morals, fair competition and solidarity with fellow citizens. Acknowledged as wrong, it is in many instances also an acceptable and commonplace exchange practice. This study addresses this incongruity and aims to show how these inconspicuous exchanges of work are distinguished in terms of legality and licitness. The study shows that purchasing work informally is not only a rational economic decision, but can also be the result of resolving necessities in daily life due to societal bottlenecks and/or probing tax legislation. Justifying the illegal but licit svart arbete, purchasers are seen to emphasise a reciprocal relationship with the provider of the work and also with the state. In this way, a sense of balance and justice is achieved.

pdf download Download the full paper
panel W096
Markets, moneys, and mobilities: transnational organizing