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Street trader organisations in policy processes

Street trading is a highly contested economic activity in cities of the global south. This is mainly due to different interests and discourses by officials and other stakeholders such as formal businesses. These interests and discourses are in most cases contradictory resulting in disjuncture between initiatives of job creation and poverty alleviation mainly encouraged by national government and the management and maintenance of streets by local governments where approaches tend to be restrictive. The restrictive nature of policies and implementation practices has led to collective action and mobilisation of street traders in an effort to influence these processes.

The project investigates the role and influence of street trader organisations on policy processes and practice through a comparative study between the Gauteng City-Region metropolitan municipalities (City of Johannesburg, City of Tshwane and Ekurhuleni) as well as the City of Ahmedabad in India. Fieldwork is currently underway through desktop research, interviews and observations. The research is focused on investigating a number of dynamics including: the history of mobilisation of informal/street trader organisations; organisations engaging in policy processes; the relationship between street trader organisations and the state; the spheres of government at which the organisations engage and concentrate their efforts; the ongoing street level negotiations in contested sites; and the extent to which the politics of street trader organisations (competitions, divisions and fragmentation between organisations etc.) affect their influence on policy and implementation.

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