Everyday Forms of Resistance to the Law: An Ethnographic Study of Street Vendors in Bogotá

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Abstract

Selling goods or providing services in public spaces is one of the most accessible occupations for many individuals living in poverty in today’s world. However, most street vendors conduct their businesses by disobeying laws that prohibit this kind of work. Drawing on field data on street vendors in the city of Bogotá, Colombia, this article ethnographically explores vendors’ ideas, perceptions, and coping strategies in relation to the state law that prohibits street vending. Using the concept of legal consciousness, we argue that street vendors’ non-compliance with the law is not only a coping mechanism to participate in the economic system, but also a weapon of the weak to voice their ideas and opinion about the unfairness of the political and economic system in which they live, i. e. their lack of trust in the formalization policies to move street vendors to the formal economy, and their demands for better social protection for vulnerable groups.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Law and Society

Keywords

  • sociology of law, poverty, formalization, informal economy, Colombia, law and society, legal consciousness, Street vendors
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-638
JournalDroit et Société
Volume91
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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