Papers of BAS, Humanities and Social Sciences

Vol. 1, No 1, 2014

SOCIOLOGY

A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO SOCIAL SURVEY RESEARCH ON THE “SHADOW ECONOMY”

Emilia Chengelova

Abstract: The measurement of economic activities performed in violation or disregard of formal regulations has been the object of increased research interest in the last twenty years. This field of study is many-sided and has been illuminated to various degrees, but scholarly efforts have ultimately been aimed at establishing the relative share of shady activities within the official economy.

This article offers a brief overview of the methods that have so far been applied within the frameworks of various paradigmatic approaches for the study and explanation of shady economic practices in Europe and the world. The author traces the episte­mological and instrumental particularities of applying the sociological approach to the study of this category of economic activities. The article presents and grounds an original methodology for research on the “shadow economy” in referring to the experience of a Bulgarian research team working on measuring non-legitimate economic activities. The article argues that, due to the complex and internally contradictory nature of informal economic activities, their study requires the application of a holistic methodological approach. After applying this research strategy, the general conclusion is that the study of the shadow economy using sociological methods is expedient and constructive from a methodological point of view, both in epistemological terms and as regards the possibility it affords to construct and correct the national policies.

JEL: E26, O17, D73