Shadow economies and irregular work are not new phenomena. Before the rise of the modern welfare state, there was already a broad range of diverse economic activities which were regarded as irregular, though not necessarily illicit. Although they constituted an important part of economic life, such irregular and informal practices have not yet been studied more closely and from a comprehensive perspective in modern historical research. The articles in this volume explore multifaceted aspects of informal economies and irregular work in European cities from the 16th to the early 20th centuries. The volume thus contributes a historical perspective to ongoing debates about the crisis of the modern labour society and the relationship between (informal) work, public welfare and the state.
Philip R. Hoffmann-Rehnitz is research assistant at the University of Muenster
Thomas Buchner is Post Doc researcher at the University of Vienna (ERC-project "The Production of Work")