Formality and Informality

Formality and Informality

from Decoupling to Entanglement

Workshop on the Formal and the Informal

in Law, Institutions and Economy

Warsaw, 13-14 May 2013







Organizing Institutions:

Polish Sociological Association: Sociology of Law Section & Warsaw Department

University of Warsaw: Faculty of Law and Administration & Institute of Applied Social Sciences


Keynote Speakers:

Timothy Eccles (Nottingham Trent University)


Abstracts and Programme:

To download the programme click here.

To download the abstracts click here.

Scientific Committee:

Timothy Eccles (Nottingham Trent University)

Mikko Lagerspetz (Åbo Akademi University)

Jacek Kurczewski (University of Warsaw)

Małgorzata Fuszara (University of Warsaw)

Grażyna Skąpska (Jagiellonian University & Polish Sociological Association)


Organizing Committee:

Adriana Mica (University of Warsaw)

Jan Winczorek (University of Warsaw)

Rafał Wiśniewski (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw)



Call for Papers

The interest in the formal and the informal spans across many sociological disciplines. In organization sociology, it has been a staple topic since the dawn of the field, reflected in such themes as the limits of bureaucracy, formal/informal leadership or formal/informal information flows. In sociology of law, the issue of informal working of legal institutions has also been a core problem, contributing to the very institutionalization of sociological studies of law, as opposed to lawyers' inquiries in its formal nature. Similarly, economic sociology has long been interested in investigating the exchange processes in informal economies, and the subtle relationships they have with the official ones. The Workshop intends to bring together these diverse interests and discourses and by doing so, to facilitate the confrontation of their theoretical assumptions and the empirical outcomes they produce.

    It should not escape notice that many recent contributions to that theme, particularly in  organization sociology and institutionalism, have broken with depicting informal institutions as mere epiphenomena of formal structures to explore the dynamics of the formal and the informal as self-contained realms. In this perspective, the interest is focused on the manner in which informal practices support, confront and oppose the formal sphere of conflicting logic. One impulse for such reorientation has been the interest in the formal in the studies of diffusion and institutional isomorphism, as well as decoupled and loosely coupled systems. Interestingly, this shift parallels earlier developments in sociology and anthropology of law, stressing the impossibility of purely formal, zweck-rational legal institutions and underlining the immanence of legal pluralism. In all said fields, the research topics converge, comprising such phenomena as: formal and informal constraints, rules and regulations, processes of formalization and de-formalization, informal exchanges in formal systems, formal and informal organizations in markets, ethnic economy and entrepreneurship and, lately, formalization of informal practices and transnational governance.

  In line with these developments, the Workshop welcomes papers dealing with such topics as:

  • Interactions of the formal and the informal in institutions and legal systems;
  • Emergence, development and dissolution of formal organizations in the informal contexts;
  • Formal management of informal pressures and informal incapacitation of formal norms and restraints;
  • The role of social capital in formal social systems;
  • Informal economy and the relation it bears to formal economy.

The Organizing Committee hopes the Workshop will contribute to the conceptual and theoretical enrichment of the studies of the informal and the formal, create an apt platform for revisiting well established assumptions and paradigms, and help opening new research sites for empirical investigation. Selected papers will be invited for publication in a themed volume.


Registration and Deadlines:

Deadline for submitting paper proposals - 15 December 2012

Notification of paper acceptance - 15 January 2013

Deadline for registration (the confirmation of payment of registration fee should be received by this date) 15 March 2013

Deadline for submitting full papers (for the review and manuscript selection process) - 15 June 2013

Abstracts should be submitted to Adriana Mica (

Please provide your personal information and institutional affiliation along with your proposal.


Conference Fee:

Regular fee - 130 Euro

Members of Polish Sociological Association in good standing - 110 Euro

The conference fee covers lunch breaks, conference dinner in the evening of the first day of the conference, and the publishing of the themed volume. 


Conference Bank Account:

The Polish Sociological Association (Polskie Towarzystwo Socjologiczne)

PKO PB XV O/Warszawa

75 1020 1156 0000 7802 0059 7252

Please mention: „Workshop on Formality and Informality, … [your name]”


Data (Registration):

The Polish Sociological Association (Polskie Towarzystwo Socjologiczne)

ul. Nowy Świat 72, room 216

00-330 Warsaw, POLAND

NIP: 526-030-01-73

IBAN: PL 75 1020 1156 0000 7802 0059 7252




University of Warsaw,

Main Campus, Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28, Warsaw


Practical Information:

See details

Please note that organizers are unable to arrange accomodation in Warsaw.