Creativity in the informal economy of Zimbabwe

Weston, Alia (2012) Creativity in the informal economy of Zimbabwe. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


My research explores the notion of creativity in the context of informal work. Existing literature on the subject has primarily focused on identifying the factors which enhance or constrain creativity in the organisational or work context. Most research has been developed and implemented in western contexts such as the United States or Europe, and there is limited explanation available of creativity in non-western contexts. There is also no research explicitly directed at explaining creativity in the informal sector, which presents a gap in the literature. I have therefore sought to enrich this literature by constructing a conceptual perspective that explains creative engagement in informal work, a methodology to explore this concept, and stories that illustrate how this occurs. I have constructed my conceptual perspective of creativity by drawing on de Certeau's (1988/1984) notion of creative tactics. I propose that creativity is the tactical subversion of space within an order, where a person uses constraints to their advantage, to take action. This involves the ability to engage in plurality, use what one has at hand, and take advantage of chance opportunities that arise. In order to explore my conceptual perspective, I carried out my research during the post-2000 crisis in Zimbabwe because there was a high prevalence of informal work during this time. I have developed my methodology - focused narrative ethnography - to capture the perspectives and dynamic engagement of people working in the informal sector, and intensively collected data in the form of narratives, observations, and visual material. In addition, I have written a series of stories to illustrate the different ways in which this occurs. These reflect changing attitudes and practices of work, as well as artistic and communal engagement in informal work. My findings reflect three main perspectives. First, informal work is a space that enables creative action. Second, creative engagement is a complex process that occurs in moments of creative action, wherein a person tactically uses their constraints to their advantage. Third, these moments shift and change in relation to the ongoing and changing nature of constraint that is inherent in many contexts of lnformal work. A further finding is that several parallels can be drawn between the literature referring to survival during difficult situations and my explanation of creativity, so it may be a useful addition to the vocabulary of work-related creativity literature. My findings are important because I highlight at the most basic level what people go through to identify opportunity, and my perspective of creativity may thus provide fresh insights into other areas linked to creativity, such as innovation or entrepreneurship.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page