1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Potential and Challenges of SSE Initiatives for Informal Street Trade: A Case Study of Two Indian Cities (Draft)


This paper aims to illustrate the relevance and challenges of the SSE approach for managing informal street trade. The author argues that SSE, with its expanded notion of economy, can be instrumental in mainstreaming informal street trade as an alternate economic form. Informal street trade, being an issue of political economy, social development and economic purposes, needs the SSE approach because it does not reduce the economy to the market alone. Also, SSE focuses on community and civil society as economic partners and therefore offers an appropriate framework for street trade, which began to organize through civil society movements. However, the author also contends that the transition to SSE would require stakeholders from different spheres to converge together in strategic alignment. The two case studies show that in the absence of a regulatory system, various stakeholders in the street trade sector have worked out informal mechanisms to serve mutual interests. Inherent interests are likely to resist a transition towards SSE. Street trade also suffers due to the indeterminate policy environment. The transition of informal street trade into SSE would entail structural changes in the way political economy, market forces, bureaucratic structures and urban planning processes approach the sector.

Neetu Choudhary is an independent consultant based in India. With a PhD in economics, she specializes in academic research, policy analysis and project implementation. Her research interest includes hunger, malnutrition, gender, informal sector and related policy issues. Her research has been published in refereed journals and presented at conferences.