Abstract: Post-Weberian definitions see the state–individual relationship as a “do ut des” one. The state grants protection, education, medical care, and its citizens contribute labour, compliance, and taxes. When this does not occur, it is generally accepted that the citizens are deviating from state goals. However, there are cases where lack of compliance stems from the fact that society members do not feel protected by formal structures, and they rely on informal ones to replace, supplement, or even compete with state institutions. The starting point of this article is that this lack of support may result from enhanced labour mobility (and migration) across Europe, and may enhance the creation and persistence of informal practices. Taking advantage of two case studies, Romanian migrants to Spain and ethnic entrepreneurs in Croatia, we observe how governance is constructed and provide two novel interpretative frameworks. First, we explore the use of informality (informal practices) to suggest that apparently insignificant actions that are repeated routinely and without much thought, are a way to contribute to the construction of the political and that everyday governance should receive more attention. Second, we use this claim to argue that a better understanding of informality can help identify governance areas where interventions are more urgent. These are the spheres of public life where it is possible to identify a larger gap between the wishes of a state and the ways citizens actually act as they informally avoid or bypass its rules.
Keywords: Croatia; informality; labour mobility; Spain; welfare