This article presents the challenges a social scientist can encounter in studying workers in an informal sector. It is written from a doctoral researcher's perspective and draws on her fieldwork experience among informal automobile artisans in Osun State, Nigeria. The paper intends to share insights into navigating the challenges in conducting social inquiry among workers in the informal sector for fruitful outcomes. Particular attention is paid to some of the more common challenges researchers may encounter when conducting research in the informal sector. These challenges include project entry, participant recruitment, and retention. This article concludes with suggestions which researchers can use to study informal workers, especially in developing countries.


access gaining, automobile artisans, informal sector, Nigeria

Author Bio(s)

Funmilayo Juliana Afolabi is a lecturer at Institute for Entrepreneurship and Development Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University. She is currently undergoing her Ph.D. studies at Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. She had her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Sociology and Anthropology, at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Please direct correspondence to funmifemifolabi@gmail.com.


F.J. Afolabi received a grant (#DVC/AC/37A/AFO) from Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) under Academic Staff training and Development for her Ph.D. studies at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. TETFUND was not involved in the study design, data collection, analysis, and interpretation or reporting of the data.

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