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Socio-economic participation of Somali migrants in the informal economy of Durban.

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This study is done on Somali migrants participating In the informal economy of Durban. The aim of the study is to explore their socio-economic participation, their experiences and the prospects available to them in the informal economy of the city. By using the ethnographic approach, the study attempts to explore the study group's experiences as migrants in the informal economy. Findings of this research indicate that most Somalis in Durban engage in street-trade. Following these findings, the street-trade of Durban and Somali migrants' participation in this sector of the informal economy, became the centre of attention in this dissertation. The study also attempts to explore the impact of the policy environment on the Somali migrants' participation in the informal economy of the city. The findings of this research suggest that conditions of migration, legislative and policy environment, and the prospect for growth, drive Somali migrants in Durban to participate in the informal economy. Following the findings, this study also challenges the general perception that informal economy is a survivalist strategy, which undermines the pull-factors, such as prospects for growth and a means of avoiding the costs of formality. This study suggests that Somali migrants perceive their engagement in the street-trade as a means of accumulating capital in order to move up to bigger businesses. Social capital and networks are valuable elements often used by these migrant traders in advancing their business and sharing information about business matters. The study also explores the existence of symbiotic and conflictual relationships between the locals and Somali street-traders. This relationship is noted to be one of tension, yet with some degree of understanding which emanates from sharing a common experience as street-traders.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2005.