Gender Variations In The Nature Of Undeclared Work: Evidence From Ukraine
In recent years, a small but growing tributary of thought has begun to re-theorise the gendered nature of undeclared work by transcending the conventional ‘thin’ depiction of undeclared work as profit-motivated market-like exchange and constructing ‘thicker’ representations that recognise the presence of multifarious work relations and motives in this sphere. Given the paucity of empirical accounts that have sought to develop a nuanced theorisation of the gender variations in undeclared work based on such thicker readings, the aim of this paper is to report a study of the gendering of undeclared work in the post-socialist society of Ukraine. Analysing data collected from 600 face-to-face interviews conducted during late 2005 and early 2006 that unravel the work relations and motives involved when men and women engage in undeclared work in Ukraine, the finding is that whilst over two-thirds (68 per cent) of men's undeclared work in this post-socialist society is composed of various types of profit-motivated market-like work, nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of women's undeclared work is undertaken for friends, neighbours and kin under work relations more akin to unpaid mutual aid and for rationales other than purely financial gain. The consequent argument is that representing undeclared work in conventional ‘thin’ terms as profit-motivated market-like endeavour depicts such work more through the lens of men's lived practices rather than women's experiences. The paper therefore concludes by calling not only for a re-theorisation of undeclared work and its gendered nature in a wider range of societies and regions of the world but also for a critical evaluation of the validity of depicting monetary transactions as always market-like and profit-motivated.