Theoretical Framework

by Paul J. Dejillas


            A good theoretical framework identifies the major variables that are pertinent to the problems addressed in the study. It presents the relationships of these variables in explaining the phenomenon. A good theoretical framework therefore presents some explanations to better understand the nature, causes and dynamics of the problems being investigated.

            There are existing models for building a theoretical framework. These models include inductive-theory building, deductive-theory building, functional-theory building and model-based theory building. All of these models have their strengths and weaknesses, which the student is expected to know in order to reinforce his/her adopted theory. The student highlights these weaknesses in relation to his/her objectives and builds on it.

            There are several ways of formulating a theoretical framework. One is by simply copying existing frameworks and apply it to the situation being studied. The other is to adopt a framework that closely responds to the objectives of the study, modify it and come up with a more dynamic framework for the study. Another way, which is more challenging and demanding, is to build an entirely new theoretical framework on a subject that is not yet being explored by others.

            The conceptual model operationalizes the theoretical framework of the study. It is simply a formalized diagrammatic representation showing the relationships of the variables indicated in the theoretical framework.

            The conceptual model makes possible the empirical investigation, testing and analysis of the theoretical framework. It can include some mathematical or statistical models and measurements, which can be used to respond to the problems of the study.

            The conceptual model also elaborates in greater detail testable hypotheses and embodies these in appropriate mathematical or statistical models and measurements. Hypotheses are drawn from the theoretical framework. This can be made part of the conceptual framework. They declare the nature, direction and extent of the relationship of the various variables. They are tentative answers to the research problem(s), which are still subject for empirical verification.

            A good conceptual model guides the researcher in formulating the research design and procedures of the study. For it provides the basis for identifying and defining the nature and kind of data to be gathered, the target respondents to be explored, the instruments to be used in the gathering of data, other sources of data, methods of analysis, etc.


Review of Related Literature and Studies

Studies on the informal sector only started to appear in the 1960s. In the Philippines, this type of studies is even more recent. These are done to study a particular group of informal-sector workers. For example,

·         Vendors and hawkers (Branzuela, 1993; King, 1984; Gatchalian, et al., 1986);

Public utility drivers, domestic outworkers, piece-rate workers (King, 1984; Alonzo and Jurado, 1978; Gatchalian and Guioguio, 1991);

Hospitality girls (R. Wihtol, 1982);

Child labor (PJIR, 1986); 

Workers in the services sector (Tidalgo and Jurado, 1978);


Other studies suggest that those working in the informal sector even include the unemployed, the underemployed, out-of-school youths, the housewives and children, the marginal workers in depressed communities and the handicapped (Endaya and Bolanos, 1994). These workers belong to the low-income groups and people who for lack of skills and right education cannot be accommodated by the formal labor market.

Still other studies on the informal sector are able to provide information about gender conditions. For example, a survey of informal sector enterprises in Metro Manila (or those establishments with less than 10 workers), reports that a majority (61.5 percent) of informal sector enterprises are headed by women (Alonzo and Mangahas, 1990). It also notes that women in the informal sector are concentrated highly in the sales enterprises, especially the sari-sari or variety stores, and the carinderias (or small eatery restaurants). But these studies are not done from the perspective of globalization, much less from the gender dimension.

Earlier studies also focus on specific issues that seek to examine the conditions of workers in the informal sector. Some of these issues are:

·         Wages and working conditions (King, 1984);

·         Productivity, employment, and income-generation capability (Jurado and Castro, 1987);

·         Subcontracting work arrangements (Ofreneo, 1982; Aguilar, 1983);

·         Marketing and distribution systems (Guerrero, 1975);

·         Linkages between the formal and the informal sectors (Guerrero, 1975);

·         Demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of informal-sector participants (Gatchalian et al., 1986);

·         Child labor in informal mining (ILO, 1982); and

·         Policies, laws, legislation, programs affecting the informal sector (Dejillas, 1996).


The findings of the above studies bear close resemblance to the composition of the informal sector in other countries, whether in developed or developed countries. Foreign studies indicate that the informal sector consists of the multitude of people in less developed countries thronging the city streets, sidewalks and the black alleys. In the United States and Kenya, these are the petty traders, street vendors, collies and porters, small artisans, messengers, barbers, shoeshine boys, carpenters, tailors, drivers and personal servants (Richardson, 1969).

Other studies highlight the phenomenal growth of the informal sector over the years. In fact, employment in the informal sector has been growing much faster than that of the formal sector because, as has been cited earlier, of the relative ease of entry. It is practically open to anybody, requiring very little or no skill at all and very little or no capital at all (Richardson, 1984). Other factors cited include the existing structure of taxation, economic controls, sharp increases in government-sector spending, general deterioration in moral standards, inflation and weak deterrence against tax evasion (Yoingco and Guevara, 1991).

The reasons given for other countries are closely similar. In Taiwan, for example, it was found out that the informal sector is born precisely to evade taxation and non-tax regulations of the government. In India, tax evasion in the informal sector is prevalent in real estate transactions, large-scale manufacturing, the film industry, in smuggling, service professions and in the construction industry. It is reported that the total contributions to the country's GDP could have reached from 15 to 21 percent of the total GDP  (Chelvathurai, 1991). Meanwhile, in Guyana, the reasons why entrepreneurs are forced to engage in informal activities include legislated controls, inadequate foreign reserves and declining economic growth (Thompson, 1991).

Starting from the late 80’s, the growing role and power that multinational corporations---in the financial, manufacturing and services sectors---coming from strong and developed economies play in influencing the economy of smaller nations began to be felt. As a result, studies have emerged viewing the informal sector within the context of a global economy. But still, sad to say, until today studies focusing on the gender-differentiated impact of globalization on the informal sector are still rare.

Many existing literature deal on the subject of globalization and its impact on the labor market. But these studies are not done from the gender perspective. Some are still on the conceptual stage trying to offer models in trying to approach the study of globalization effects. For example, S. Kuruvilla (1997a) develops a framework for the analysis of the impact of globalization on employment relations broadly, and raises specific questions for research based on what is known and what is not known.  Her more recent study (1997b) examines and compares industrial relations systems in South Asia.

Other studies focus on globalization effects on some Philippine sectors. One such study is done by Sonny Melencio (1999), where he describes the nature of the crisis spawned by globalization and examines its effects in five major industries in the Philippines: wood and furniture, chemicals, electronics, textile and garments and food processing. In doing so, the study explores the type of actions that workers and their trade unions undertake to protect themselves from the consequences of globalization. But the study does not view globalization effects from the gender perspective.

Another study views the efficacy of reforms in the Philippine labor market in advancing globalization. This study, "Efficacy of Selected Labor Market Reforms in Promoting Globalisation with Equity: The Philippine Case," seeks to achieve the following objectives:

·         Review the economic reforms instituted by government in support of globalization, and identify the corresponding reforms in labor market institutions and mechanisms, (if any);

·         Assess the implications (policy-consistency check) of selected labor-market reforms on improving the competitiveness of Philippine labor and industries (globalization-test);

·         Assess the implications of selected labor-market reforms on promoting employment, income and worker empowerment in the light of structural adjustments (equity-test); and

·         Discuss emerging labor-policy issues that have to be addressed to promote growth with equity in the context of globalization.

Other more recent papers speak passionately about the impact of globalization and the recent Asian financial crisis on women (V. Tauli-Corpuz, 1998; B. Sakanond, 1999). Their bias in favor of women is very evident. Speaking of the women in the Asia-Pacific Region, Tauli-Corpus observes that it is precisely the women in Asia that bear the brunt of the recent financial crisis, reinforcing existing gender and class inequalities, "with women being the main casualties of the growing unemployment, underemployment and physical dislocation resulting from the crisis." Meanwhile, Sakanond laments that Asia's economic slump has forced more and more women and children, particularly the young girls, to take up low-paying, menial jobs due to falling household incomes.

We have come across some studies that view the gender dimension of globalization. But these studies are not also products of rigorous scientific empirical investigations. In her paper, “Globalisation and Gender Development Perspectives and Interventions,” Angela Keller-Herzog (1996) starts by examining how globalization affects the work of different groups of women and men in developing countries. In Section 4 of this paper, she discusses the gender implications of globalization. In particular, she explores how some direct effects of globalization on the labor of women and the income-generation of poor women and men can be identified from the perspective of development criteria and interventions. Section 5 touches on gender equality, empowerment and the building of human capability. The challenge posed by the paper is to consider the complex and multidimensional concepts of globalization and gender as well as to understand key relationships and implications.

Keller-Herzog identifies barriers for poor women and men to employment opportunities afforded by new centres of economic growth. These barriers are already known to us, e.g., illiteracy, lack of skills/qualifications, age, marital status, lack of money or time to undertake job searches, lack of access to credit, lack of information, ethnic, gender or other group discrimination and immobility due to household obligations or land holding. These barriers, according to her, are not the result of globalization, but that they prevent poor women and men from taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by globalization.

Another discussion paper, “Gender Implications of Globalization,” presented by Marilyn Carr on March 10, 1998 before a roundtable conference during the International Women’s Week, observes that in the case of Asia “much of the export-led economic boom of the past decade has literally been on the backs of women.”  It notes that because of the Asian financial crisis hundreds of small and large firms have been forced to close down and that women have often been the first workers to be laid-off, both because the industries that mostly employ women are the ones most affected by the crisis and because women are not organized and thus easier to terminate.

A more recent study by the ILO, “Gender Dimensions of Globalization and Modern Sector Employment Indonesia,” assesses the gender-differentiated impact of globalization in the past and the recent crisis on employment in the modern formal sector (H. Aswicahyono et al., 1999). The study examines the effects of globalization from the perspective of women’s labour participation as well as wage differentials between men and women. Its findings indicate that women’s labour participation has increased significantly in absolute and relative terms in the industrial, formal and urban sector, but that the effects of globalization on the agricultural, informal and rural sector have been less encouraging. Similarly, wage differentials between men and women have been narrowing as a result of globalization in the industrial, formal and urban sector.

            IN SUM, most of the literature and studies reviewed above views the informal sector largely from the economic or sociological point of view. There were no reviews of studies done from the other fields of social sciences, for various reasons. In spite of this, however, it could still be safely inferred that, compared with the formal sector, not much is still known about the informal sector.


Alternative Paradigms and Theories

            Over the years, several alternative paradigms and theories have emerged purporting to offer another view of reality. Some of these are given below and are cited by Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson in various parts of their work Spiritual Politics: Changing the World from the Inside Out (1994). The students are advised to secure the original works cited below and to familiarize themselves with the theories propounded by the authors.


1.      Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson. 1994. Spiritual Politics: Changing the World from the Inside Out. New York: Ballantine Books. The authors articulate a new political paradigm based on inner causes. The new paradigm offers an alternative from the current approach of relying solely on rational and quantitative solutions to problems to “a broader approach that includes an intuitive and psychological understanding of political issues.” The authors maintain that the inner, subjective worlds affect the outer worlds.

2.      Ed Schwerin. 1990. Empowerment as a Paradigm for Transformational Politics. A paper presented at the American Political Scientists Association Conference. San Francisco. The author advances of “several types of empowerment: psychological---relating to feelings and attitudes; social---relating to ability; and political---relating to activism. But he says that “true empowerment ... must be based on self-esteem, capability, knowledge, skills, political awareness, participation, and the fulfillment of our basic human rights and needs.” “This new political paradigm focuses on individual empowerment---helping the people confident in themselves and their ability to affect the world, and giving them training and tools to be effective in achieving social goals.” As McLaughlin and Davidson observe, “it helps people overcome victim consciousness---feeling sorry for themselves and their problems and blaming other people or “the system” (p. 124).

3.      Alice Bailey. 1949. The Destiny of Nations. New York: Lucis Publishing. The author maintains that nations, like individuals, have both a personality and a soul. As one follower notes: “the nation or society, like the individual, has a body, an organic life, a moral and aesthetic temperament, a developing mind and a Soul” (Sri Aurobindo. 1970. The Human Cycle. (Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publications, p. 79). Other authors observe that “when a nation is government primarily by its personality, it will be materialistic and self-seeking and see itself as the center of the world ... There are struggles within any national psyche between those elements representing the Soul and those representing the personality ... To the degree that Soul impulses are not heeded and the lower desires (food, shelter, clothing) are allowed to dominate, there will be problems and even disaster in the national life” (McLaughlin and Davidson, 1994:290).

4.      James McGregor Burns. 1978. Leadership. New York: Harper and Row. There is now a talk on a new type of leadership that is transformative that educates rather than directs, encourages than suppresses, inspires than bosses or dominates. As the author says “the transformational leader looks for potential motives in followers, seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person of the follower. The result of transforming leadership is a relationship of mutual simulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents” (p. 4).

5.      Leonard Duhl. 1990. The Social Entrepreneurship of Change. New York; Pace University. In pp. 13-19, the author expands the theory of psychologist Abraham Maslow needs---food, shelter, clothing, etc.---to include higher, spiritual needs. The goal of entrepreneurship is, “first, to produce goods for people to support themselves; second, to conserve resources; third, to produce by cooperative methods; and last, to consume only what is ‘appropriate.’”

6.      David Osborne. 1988. Laboratories of Democracy. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Pp. 326-327. The author says that economic growth must be our major priority, but it can be combined with equity, environmental protection, and other social goals. The primary focus, says Osborne, is on bringing the poor into the political process through civil rights legislation, community organizing, and regional programs. It could also be extended to bring the poor into the mainstream economic process through education, training, employment, and investment, in contrast to the old paradigm’s approach which is to increase spending by public bureaucracies (deficit spending).

7.      David Osborne and Ted Gaebler. 1992. Reinventing Government. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Publishing. Pp. ix-x. The authors present a New Paradigm of “entrepreneurial” government that synthesizes left and right. The approach is said to be catalyzing, community-owned, competitive, mission driven, customer driven, enterprising, anticipatory, decentralized, and market-oriented.


            There are still several alternative paradigms and theories that could be of interest to students of Applied Cosmic Anthropology. But still these remain to be, not only unearthed, but more importantly known and mastered by AppCA students. There is an even more challenging part of applying one or some of these theories to study and transform today’s realities. It goes without saying that the minimum basic requirement is for each AppCA student to have an inventory or a comprehensive list of these theories in their stock of knowledge and to be conversant with these from hereon.