UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Global Informality Project

The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality

Edited by Professor Alena V. Ledeneva and International Board
University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies

About the Encyclopaedia

The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality is an interdisciplinary research project led by UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. It will provide the first multimedia online resource that explores informal practices and structures from a global perspective. Through its comparative and ethnographic investigations, the encyclopaedia will explore the existence of multiple moralities, which account for the resilience of informal practices, and explore their legitimacy and institutional arrangements as well as the cultural and historical contexts of informality. The project will create an online resource overseen by UCL’s Information Studies/Centre for Digital Humanities to unite scholars of informality all over the world, and importantly to provide a platform for the submission and curation of informal practises across the globe. It will be a comprehensible, easily accessible resource targeting not only the academic community, but also policy makers, businesses and the public.

A print version of selected entries is also planned, with preliminary interest from Cambridge University Press as part of its FP7 ANTICORRP series of publications. The print version will focus on exploring the boundaries between informality and corruption, including the ambivalences of informal practices and their major implications for anti-corruption policy.

Contributing to the Encyclopaedia

The encyclopaedia is based on authored entries of approximately 1,000-1,500 words. We are looking for contributors who have done primary, if not pioneering research of aspects of informality. If you are interested in contributing or would like to suggest concepts for inclusions, please contact Project Manager Dr Anna Bailey at informality2014@gmail.com

Guidelines for Entries

Entries should be around 1,000-1,500 words including bibliography. Each entry will focus on a single practice (preferably named in colloquial way) and analyse at least some of the following aspects:

  •  Name of the informal practice;
  •  Definition, etymology and its translation into other languages;
  •  How widely is it used?;
  •  In which countries/regions/sectors is it spread?;
  •  Identify analogous practices, named differently in different countries (if possible);
  • How does it relate to other informal practices (discuss similarities and differences if possible);
  • What are the implications of the chosen practice for politics/economy/ society?;
  • Which method was or can be used for researching this practice?;
  • Give examples of the practice;
  • How can the practice be measured?
  • Please cross-reference and recommend readings.


  • Entries should be written in British English
  • Avoid use of the first person pronoun
  • Use simple and straightforward language
  •  Entries should be aimed at a non-specialist audience, including non-academics


  •  Entries should be single-spaced, ideally in Calibri font, point 12.
  • Non-English words, including the name of the practice, should appear in italics.
  • Referencing should appear in parentheses in the text, in the form (Surname Year: page number(s)), e.g. (Smith 2014: 31-5). Please do not put a comma between the author and the year.
  • All references in the text should be included in the bibliography/recommended reading
  • Please list the name of the practice, author’s name and institution at the top of the document, in the exact format you wish it to appear, e.g.:
Name of practice: blat Author name: Alena V. Ledeneva Institution: School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London
  1. Name of practice: blat
  2. Author name: Alena V. Ledeneva
  3. Institution: School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London

We are using Cambridge University Press’s standard format for referencing and bibliography. Please follow the following formats:


Rupp, Katherine. 2004. Gift Giving in Japan: Cash, Connections, Cosmologies. Stanford: Stanford University Press

Blundo, G. and Le Meur, P. Y. (eds.) 2009. The Governance of Daily Life in Africa: Ethnographic Explorations of Public and Collective Services. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers

Padgett, J., Bonacich, P., Skvoretz, J. and Scott, J. 2000. Social Network Analysis. London: Sage

Chapters from edited collections

Bourdieu, P. 1986. ‘The forms of capital’, in J. G. Richardson (ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. New York: Greenwood Press: 241-58

Journal Articles

Lebra, Takie Sugiyama. 1975. ‘An Alternative Approach to Reciprocity’, American Anthropologist, 77: 550-6

News articles

Kuzmin, Vladimir. 2011. ‘By October 1, government officials will leave the boards of state-run companies’, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 4 April: 3

Novaya gazeta. 2010. ‘A bil li uchreditel’?’, No. 74, 12 July: 6

RIA Novosti. 2010. ‘Nothing can make nation drink less, say quarter of Russians’, 17 March

Internet-based sources

Petrov, Thomas. 2012. ‘The secret of the wine cellar’, Rumafia.com, 4 May

UNDP. 2004. Practice Code: Anti-corruption, www.undp.org/governance/docs/AC_PN_English.pdf

Multiple works from the same author and year

Please differentiate by adding a letter after the year of publication, starting with “a”. For example:

Ballard, R. 2005a. ‘Coalitions of reciprocity and the maintenance of financial integrity within informal value transmission systems: The operational dynamics of contemporary hawala networks’, Journal of Banking Regulation, 6 (4): 319–352

Ballard, R. 2005b. ‘Remittances and economic development in India and Pakistan’, in S. Maimbo and D. Ratha (eds.), Remittances: Development Impact and Future Prospects. Washington, D.C.: World Bank

Non-English language sources

There is no need to provide translations of the titles of non-English sources. Please transliterate any non-Latin scripts into Latin letters, e.g.:

Korzhikhina, T. P. 1992. Administrativno-komandnaya sistema upravleniia. Moscow: RGGU

Kulikov, V. 2005. ‘Telefonnoe pravo podsudno’, Rossiiskaya gazeta, 6 September, www.rg.ru/2005/09/06/telefonnoe-pravo.html