Women on the streets: vending and public space in chile

Nunez, Lorena

Nunez, L. (1993). Women on the Streets: Vending and Public Space in Chile. Economic and Political Weekly, WS67-WS82.

Informal Sector , Public Space , Street Vending , Women Work

The informal sector is often seen as being composed of a lump sum of people's failures, or is defined as arising out of limitations in the formal sector itself: It is, as a consequence, looked upon as stagnant. However, the informal sector can also be seen as being constantly built upon and transformed by people 's own organised responses to given situations, often at times of crisis. This article aims to examine street vending as an informal sector activity undertaken by women in general and in the contextof Chilefrom thisperspective.Moreover,women instreetvending challenge cultural valuesandbeliefsthat reinforce the stereotypes. Thus the street as a physical and symbolic space becomes the scenario upon whichl women defy the values which reinforce their subordination.

Main finding
The results of this research paper suggests that women in Chile seem to prefer working in the informal sector (a.i being street vendors), as it gives them a mean to challenge gender norms. Analysis shows that women who are heads of households are more likely to enter the informal labour market if the men are not taking up the role of garrantying financial safety. Women are forced to join the informal sector when means of subsistence are not guarranteed. The state plays a contradicting role in this context, as it highly condemns illegal activities, but yet is slowly enabling th eformal sector to operate within illegality, and such "informality is not condemned but rather protected". The study confirms the paradigm that poor women are seen as being the victims of poverty and male dominance is correct, but only to a certain extent, and the author argues for a change in research approaches regarding women in the informal sector.

Description of method used in the article

Of practical use

Organising categories

Economic Transactions
Physical types
Markets Streets
Geographic locations