Rumour, migrants, and the informal economies of Naples, Italy

Nicholas Harney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This paper aims to consider the use of rumour by Bangladeshi migrant entrepreneurs in Naples, Italy to comment on informal economic practices and migrant moral hierarchies present in that city.Design/methodology/approach – It is based on ethnographic fieldwork among migrants conducted by the author in the Naples region in 2004 and 2005. Rumour has been interpreted by some scholars as a way to promote community cohesion and by others to promote the self-interest of those circulating it.Findings – In this paper, rumour is seen as a communicative device that offers information or news for evaluation and is a central means of distributing information in all economies. Here, migrants use the information circulating in rumours to interpret their migratory chances in Italy in general and, more specifically, entrepreneurial conditions available to those engaged in informal economic activities in the Neapolitan economy. These rumours travel beyond a circumscribed racialised group to have purchase in wider social fields. In this case, as subjective representations of economic behaviour, these rumours offer models for entrepreneurial activities to be admired, mimicked, condemned, or avoided.Originality/value – This ethnographic material suggests that greater attention should be paid to how subjective understandings spur social action as reflected here through the use of rumours as a kind of knowledge to be assessed and interpreted to form the basis of decisions about economic behaviour among Bangladeshi migrants in Naples.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-384
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Issue number9/10
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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