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Type Journal Article - State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM)
Title The formal, the informal and the precarious: Making a living in urban Papua New Guinea
Volume 2015
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 1-24
URL http://www.researchgate.net/profile/John_Cox9/publication/278029386_The_Formal_the_Informal_and_the_​Precarious_Making_a_Living_in_Urban_Papua_New_Guinea/links/557a441208ae752158718021.pdf
For many Papua New Guineans, the dominant accounts of ‘the economy’ — contained within development reports, government documents, and the media — do not adequately reflect their experiences of making a living. Large-scale resource extraction — fronted by the PNG LNG (Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas) project — as well as the private sector, export cash cropping, and wage employment have dominated these accounts. Meanwhile, the broader economic picture has remained obscured, as the diversity of economic practices, including subsistence production, non-monetary and non-market exchange, and a flourishing ‘informal’ economy have routinely been overlooked and undervalued (Gibson-Graham 2006). Addressing this gap, this paper provides some grounded examples of the diverse livelihood strategies people employ in PNG’s growing urban centres, which house around 13 per cent of the country’s people (PNGSO 2003). Greater recognition of the diversity of rural livelihoods is also important, although beyond the scope of this paper. Understanding the diverse ways in which ‘ordinary’ Papua New Guineans make a living is an important starting point for considering how the benefits of significant economic growth, currently being driven by the resource sector, may be distributed more equitably and contribute to more inclusive human development (UNDP 2014).

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