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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The relational economy of informality: spatial dimensions of street trading in Ivory Park, South Africa
Authors:Charman, AndrewISNI
Govender, Thireshen
Periodical:Urban Forum (ISSN 1874-6330)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:market vendors
informal sector
External link:https://doi.org/10.1007/s12132-016-9290-z
Abstract:The paper seeks to contribute towards an understanding of the spatial ordering of the neighbourhood economy of marginalised urban communities where informal businesses predominate. In doing so, the authors examine the spatial economy of informality in which contestations and agreements over space exert an organising dynamic. These social-spatial processes are examined through a case study in Ivory Park, Johannesburg, wherein they focus on the consumption and organisation of space, the infrastructural and architectural strategies that entrepreneurs utilise in responding to market impulses, risks and pressure and the unseen organisational logics as well as social processes in which the use of space is contested. The analysis is based on primary data collected through a business census and a social-spatial examination of the street market environment, including infrastructure and business forms. The research highlights three aspects of this relational economy that are insightful for the process of thinking about how cities should respond to economic informality. First, the case illustrates the flexible agility of businesses, witnessed in the responsiveness of business activities to space and place dynamics. Second, it illuminates some of the unseen organisational logics that accommodate different business and non-business needs (traders versus pedestrians; small businesses versus large) but also uphold power dynamics. Third, it reveals the social processes that facilitate inclusivity, from surveillance, to the acceptance of 'outsiders' and the sociability afforded by the publicness of interactions within the street space. Taken together, these aspects demonstrate the importance of reimagining current approaches to managing neighbourhood economies in ways that are sensitive to the complex systems that spatial informalities can generate. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]