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Dynamics of Social Networks of Urban Informal Entrepreneurs in an African Economy


  • Jean-Philippe Berrou

    () (GREThA - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée - UB - Université de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, LAM - Les Afriques dans le monde - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IEP Bordeaux - Sciences Po Bordeaux - Institut d'études politiques de Bordeaux)

  • Claire Gondard-Delcroix

    () (GREThA - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée - UB - Université de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


This paper carries out an analysis of the formation and transformation of social relations and networks of access to resources in the professional trajectory of micro-entrepreneurs operating in an urban informal African economy. The analysis of social networks is rooted in Granovetter's structural embeddedness framework combined with the dynamic and discursive conception of social relations of Harisson White (embeddedness and decoupling). Life stories of micro and small entrepreneurs in Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina-Faso) are analyzed by mixing qualitative and quantitative methods. Results suggest that the construction of social networks and interpersonal relations of access to resources is a long-term process. A co-construction of social networks and economic activity is observed; it challenges the argument that social capital is a substitute for a lack of personal resources. The growth of small and micro activities is linked to the professionalization and stabilization of a social network, and even to the institutionalization of access to resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Philippe Berrou & Claire Gondard-Delcroix, 2018. "Dynamics of Social Networks of Urban Informal Entrepreneurs in an African Economy," Post-Print halshs-02280415, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-02280415
    DOI: 10.1080/00346764.2017.1349330
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jean-Philippe Berrou & François Combarnous, 2012. "The Personal Networks of Entrepreneurs in an Informal African Urban Economy: Does the ‘Strength of Ties’ Matter?," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 70(1), pages 1-30, July.
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    7. Marcel Fafchamps & Flore Gubert & IRD-Paris & DIAL, 2005. "The Formation of Risk Sharing Networks," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-037, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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    10. Fafchamps, Marcel & Gubert, Flore, 2007. "The formation of risk sharing networks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 326-350, July.
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    1. Claire GONDARD-DELCROIX & Holimalala RANDRIAMANAMPISOA & Pierre A. LAZAMANANA & Aina ANDRIANJAKATINA, 2019. "Diversity of social protection forms in Madagascar A multi-scalar and multi-actor approach," Cahiers du GREThA (2007-2019) 2019-11, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée (GREThA).
    2. Grossetti, Michel, 2018. "Embeddedness and decoupling in innovation activities," economic sociology_the european electronic newsletter, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, vol. 19(3), pages 19-24.

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    Mixed methods JEL Classification; Entrepreneurial stories; Informal economy; Social Networks; Embeddedness;

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