Informality, Class Structure, and Class Identity in Contemporary Argentina
by Rodolfo Elbert
The dynamics of peripheral capitalism in Latin America includes the employment or self-employment of a significant proportion of the working class under informal arrangements. The neoliberal transformations of the 1990s deepened this feature of Latin American labor markets, and it was not reversed during the period of economic growth that followed the collapse of neoliberalism. In this context, sociological debates have focused on the relationship between the formal and the informal fractions of the working class. Examination of the biographical and family linkages between formal and informal workers in Argentina and the effect of these connections on the patterns of class self-identification of individuals shows that lived experience across the informality boundary makes formal workers similar to informal workers in terms of class self-identification. This research provides preliminary evidence that the two kinds of workers belong to the same social class because of the fluidity of the boundary that separates them. Instead of a class cleavage, this boundary is better defined as the separation between fractions of the working class.