Emergence I (Haris)

Posted in Definitions, Emergence, Haris, Mapping by Harisheiz on October 7, 2007

The term emergence is critical for understanding informality. The term seems to me to imply that informality is not the outcome of a process where a creator or a set of creators produce something from scratch but an innate property of space that preexists in the state of possibility expecting for activation.

Different spaces or places bear different kinds or degrees of informality. Concerning the need for a precision in the process of mapping informality it might be useful to start discussing about two terms,

– “class or category of informality” meaning the kind of informal practices and their class / category according to the degree of their effect in space when they are singular (performed, applied, appropriated, constructed)

– “capacity of informality” meaning how much informality a certain space can bear. No matter that measuring the dynamics of a space is extremely difficult it is useful to have it in mind at least as a scope, a tool for thinking.


Understanding Informality – Hypothesis (Haris)

Posted in Definitions, Haris by Harisheiz on October 7, 2007

Understanding Informality (in progress)

a. Informality is what is not formal. (the term “informal” contains both the field of the opposites of formal but also the field of the non defined as formal)

b. Informality is to be found in the realm of the social and the technical, not in nature since it presupposes a structure, an authority or a system that defines what is formal. (wide and large someone could say that there are the formal, the informal and the natural)

c. Informality emerges

d. Informality refers to practices, informal objects are such because of the nature of the practices that produce, constitute or situate them

e. Informality is context and scale specific. There are sets of exteriorities that define what is formal.

f. There are different kinds of informality

– Social

– Cultural (Social – Cultural)

– Political

– Economical (Political – Economical)

– Spatial

Spatial informality, is the material or immaterial spatial expression of other kinds of informality or combinations of them (cultural, social, political and/or economical informality). The nature of these combinations needs to be defined.

We roughly distinguish four general categories of spatial informality:

– performed

– applied

– appropriated

– constructed

Attempt for a Definition – part I (Haris)

Posted in Definitions, Haris by Harisheiz on September 25, 2007

Before any attempt to compose a straightforward definition of informality, the term seems to presuppose the definition of what is considered to be it’s opposite. Therefore the term formality needs to become clear since informality is always hetero-defined, not as the opposite of the formal as almost automotaically one would suggest, but as the absence of formality. This doesn’t imply that the opposite of formal is not informal but that the term “informal” contains both the field of the opposites of formal but also the field of the non defined as formal. As Derrida would pose it meaning is not a presence but a generalized economy of absences. Something is not perceived as informal straightforward but rather as an absence of formality. Before something became formal has previously existed in the field of informality.

(to be updated, work in progress…)

Dictionary and Encyclopedia definitions of the term

Posted in Definitions by Harisheiz on September 20, 2007

In general an attempt to define informality will have as a keystone the definition of it opposite, formality.

This is what I found in a first attempt to define the terms:

in·for·mal·i·ty  (nfôr-ml-t)

n. pl. in·for·mal·i·ties

1. The state or quality of being informal.

2. An informal act.


When I wrote “Informality” in Wikipedia I was redirected to the term formality:

A formality is an established procedure or set of specific behaviors and utterances, conceptually similar to a ritual although typically secular and less involved. A formality may be as simple as a handshake upon making new acquaintainces in Western culture to the carefully defined procedure of bows, handshakes, formal greetings, and business-card exchanges that may mark two businessmen being introduced in Japan. In legal and diplomatic circles, formalities include such matters as greeting an arriving head of state with the appropriate national anthem.

Cultures and groups within cultures often have varying degrees of formalities which can often prove a source of frustration or unintentional insult when people of different expectations or preferences interact. Those from relatively informal backgrounds may find formality to be empty and hypocritical. Those from relatively formal backgrounds may find informal cultures hard to deal with, as their carefully refined and nuanced behaviors go completely unnoticed.

The difference between formality and politeness is often a point of confusion for those from relatively informal cultures. On the other hand, those who have been brought up in relatively formal circumstances often experience discomfort and even, over the long-term, disenchantment, in less formal circumstances.

(Source: ““)

Another one:


c.1386, from L. formalis, from forma (see form). Short for formal dance, first recorded 1946. Formality in the depreciative sense is from 1647. Formalism is from 1840 as “strict adherence to prescribed forms;” 1943 in ref. to Rus. literary movement (1916-30).



In another post I will also upload an image from Visuwords, to show what terms are related to informality. I’m tired now, I go to bed.