Informal Markets, Livelihood and Politics: Street vendors in urban India, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Informal Markets, Livelihood and Politics

Street vendors in urban India, 1st Edition

By Debdulal Saha

Routledge India

218 pages

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Hardback: 9781138685666
pub: 2016-07-13
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pub: 2016-07-15
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Low industrial growth, declining agricultural sector and limited expansion of formal sector employment in India have increasingly forced the poor to take recourse to informal sources of livelihoods. Street vending is one such thriving source of self-employment across cities.

This book delves into the sustenance and survival strategies of street vendors across 17 cities in India and assesses the issues revolving around self-created markets, livelihood and politics that are contested in public space. It also presents a conceptual and theoretical understanding of different socio-economic and policy concerns pertaining to street vending in the country. The study shows how despite the absence of legal frameworks and institutional support, these urban self-employed informal workers subsist by arranging ad-hoc alternatives, creating informal institutions and negotiating with formal and informal actors in the market. It also discusses the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, and examines how inclusive the legal recognition is for these workers of informal economy.

Drawing on exhaustive research and a wealth of primary data, this book will be useful to scholars and researchers in development studies, labour studies, economics, sociology and those in public policy and urban planning.


'Informal Markets, Livelihood and Politics: Street Vendors in Urban India is an important contribution to the growing field of global labour studies. It is the most comprehensive study we have of street vending. In its combination of rigorous scholarship and commitment to policies that give an institutional voice to these new “political subjects of labour”, Debdulal Saha has provided us with a template for future studies of street vending across the globe.'

Edward Webster, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Table of Contents

Boxes. Tables. Foreword Sharit Bhowmik. Preface. Acknowledgements. Abbreviations. Introduction: Street Vending in Informal Economy 1. Street Vendors in Urban India: An Overview 2. Informal Markets: Structure, Characteristics and Sustenance 3. Public Space, Politics and Survival Strategies 4. Livelihood Insecurity, Uncertainty and Vulnerability 5. Negotiations, Organisations and Collective Bargaining 6. Legislating Street Vending: Challenges and Alternative Development Bibliography. Index

About the Author

Debdulal Saha is Assistant Professor and Programme Coordinator of Labour Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Guwahati campus, Assam, India. Prior to joining TISS, he was post-doctoral fellow at the International Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD), University of Kassel, Germany. His research interests are development economics, labour studies, informal economy and livelihoods. He is co-author of Financial Inclusion of the Marginalised: Street Vendors in the Urban Economy (2013) and co-editor of The Food Crisis: Implications for Labor (2013).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Urban