Street trading and conflictual uses of public space: combining both scientific and practical dimensions
Jean-Fabien Steck (Université Paris Nanterre)
Paper short abstract:
Short abstract: How street trading, an individual and a collective resource, can be integrated into the urban governance? From the example of street trading, the paper presents how a social issue has been addressed as a research question and how the latter has been addressed to the stakeholders.
Paper long abstract:
According to the African Bank for Development, "the informal sector contributes about 55 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africa's GDP and 80 per cent of the labour force. Nine in 10 rural and urban workers have informal jobs in Africa and most employees are women and youth." (ABD, 2013). In North American, European Union, and other OECD countries, evidence suggests that the workforce has become flexibilized or informalized. Street trading is a visible side of the so called "informal sector". Despite the huge differences between the "North" and Africa, street trading is growing. The conflictual usage of space is a pertinent approach that questions the place of street vendors in the city. Space, in the particular case of mobile and precarious street vendors, remains a resource, an object of strategies, of combat and at times a theatre of conflicts. In addition, different types of vendors are also subject to conflict over space: official vendors are opposed to these informal activities that are perceived as disorderly, unsafe and also disloyal competition. On the other hand, competition is strong between vendors, a major reason being limited access to commercial space. From the example of street trading, the paper presents how a social issue has been addressed as a research question and how the latter has been addressed to the stakeholders. The IFRA-Nairobi (French Institute of Research in Africa) project combined both scientific and practical dimensions, by not only producing and discussing academic knowledge, but also by putting that knowledge at the service of the political debates.
Metropolitan emergence: cities in the globalization, views from North and sub-Saharan Africa