Given that the European Union is a free trade, market-oriented economic zone that should, theoretically, eliminate market distortions that fuel the informal economy, why are we seeing continued participation in the informal economy, specifically, the shuttle trade between Bulgaria and Turkey? Many scholars frequently cite price distortions, market gaps, lucrative exchange rates, and economic survival as prominent reasons, however, these explanations do not suffice in explaining why the shuttle trade thrives 25 years after the communist collapse in Bulgaria. Through the use of meta-linguistic analysis of the interviews and analysis of the individuals that I interviewed, I argue that, in addition to being a viable method of income supplementation, the shuttle trade also serves as a platform for social support and identity reconciliation for Turkish-Bulgarian participants. Collective nostalgia about the communist past and similar post-communist experiences and a strong sense of interpersonal trust serve to integrate shuttle traders, who invest in social capital via the shuttle trade.

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© 2015 Nikolina Stoykova

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