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17-18 | 2018
Street vending facing urban policies

Who owns the streets? Uses, appropriation and mobilization for (commercial) streets.
Editor's notes

Despite the recognition by national governments of the importance of the informal and street vending activities in developing economies, the street traders and informal workers mostly operate in a hostile legislative environment because local authorities usually consider street vending as a problem for urban management and planning. The conference “Urbanization and Street Vending”, organized after a series of forums in Kenya by IFRA-Nairobi[1] Nov. 9-10, 2016 addressed this contradiction with an inclusive approach, it gathered academics, street vendors’ associations, UN-Habitat representatives, public authorities’ representatives and town planners.

The concentration of people and activities within cities, in a context of urban mismanagement, exemplifies the tensions between people and authorities, the latter being hardly able to enforce order as well as the growing number of urban inhabitants excluded from formal employment. Whether in the administrative sector or within the formal private sector, the prospect of professional employment appears bleak at best for a large number of city-dwellers. As a result, the so-called informal sector remains an important alternative in the urban setting.

This themed issue addresses street vending as an individual and a collective resource against the backdrop of its integration into the urban governance. It questions the norms and the practices of the socio-political construction and the daily governance of this resource with an aim of understanding “who owns the street?” Even though the number of proper shops and shopping malls is increasing in the Souths, street vending, more or less informal, whether mobile or stationary, persists and grows, allowing for the occurrence of innumerable exchanges in the daily life for a large segment of the urban population. While street vending is a source of income for a large number of city-dwellers, street traders mostly operate in a hostile legislative environment because local authorities usually consider street vending as a problem for urban management and planning. This special issue firstly questions categories such as “public space”, “informal” through overviews and cases studies. The second part focuses on governing and planning issues while the last part emphasis is on participation and mobilization.

Submission process

We aim to publish this issue, coordinated by Dr. Sylvain Racaud(Senior lecturer, Université Bordeaux-Montaigne) and Dr. Jean-Fabien Steck (Senior lecturer, Université de Paris Ouest-Nanterre), by April 2018.



[1]                     Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique, http://ifra-nairobi.net/1099

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