Ibadan Journal of the Social Sciences
Volume 3, No. 2, 2005
Pages 67-76

DOI: 10.36108/ijss/5002.30.0260

Women in Informal Long-Distance Trade: The Family and the Rural-Urban Market Nexus in Southwestern Nigeria

Olanrewaju A. Olutayo

Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan


Entrepreneurial development has, for some time now, been seen as a major factor in development. Its relevance has, however; been encumbered by the unnecessary importance attached to its formalization and the predominance of informal structures in most third world nations. In the process of encouraging formalization, the social structures that gave rise to the informal trading system have not been well studied. This is particularly manifest among women in long-distance trade. The study, therefore, attempts to examine the role of women in rural-urban, long-distance informal trade. Through a combination 0f qualitative research methods, the paper exposes how the structural dependency that dominates in any formal capitalist economy is engendered in the socio-relations characterizing informal long-distance trade. This is explicated through the poverty in rural areas, which necessitated the trade such that women in rural areas have to “abandon” their “expected” motherly roles and encourage other wives (polygyny) to take care of their children. Also, the rural=urban nexus portrayed the domination of the former by the latter and, by implication, the domination of the rural women in long-distance informal trade by the urban market being controlled by men. It is concluded that, in so far as the structure and culture of poverty continues to exist and, through this, the perpetuation of informal relations at the market place, the exploitation and oppression of the poor and powerless would persist.


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