Mapping informality: the case of street food in Thewet, Bangkok

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Street vending are the most primitive form of informal trade which nowadays, continuously playsthe important role in economic and social capital in many countries, especially in the developing world. Street vendingoffers the easy access to get cheap food and commodity as well as job opportunity with low investment. Moreover, street vending vibrates public space and activate urban livelihood through the exchange and trading. Bangkok is a prime case where street vending play considerable role in many dimensions. According to the previous study on the emergent role of Bangkok street vending in response to the changing urban context due to socio-economic change, technological change, and climate change resulting more frequent and severe urban flood disaster (Sereerat, 2013). The study revealed the informality of street vending is the mechanismdriven by 3 performances: flexibility, mobility, and resilience, in providing access to food and necessity to citizen both in everyday life as well as during crises. Street vendors as a result is a resilient urban element that can meet inclusively the basic needs of all citizen. In social aspect, street vendor’s informality and inclusiveness also maintain vitality during critical condition through the reciprocal help. This finding could be apply to the more resilient urban design and planning for the future urban Asia. While the importance of street vending and its potentials is increasingly widely acknowledged through, development studies, socio-economic studies, architecture, planning, urban design and urban studies, there is considerable disparity on how they should be defined and approached as elements in urban study. As the informality of street vending also have negatively driven both socio-economic and environmental problems such as the chaotic growth, out of law, traffic congestion, dirt, pollution, privatization of public space, image of poverty. Street vendor are considered as an unwanted urban element for Bangkok public sector policy makers, urban designer as well as a part of citizen. Under the supervision of the Bangkok Municipal Administration (MBA). Bangkok is one city trying to fix chronic problems due to the street vending activities for several decades in order to modernization and beatification the city. Which has used several measures such as formalization through licensing, clearance, allocation to new arable, space management, and latest measure was the clearance without correctly public participation process. However, the results in many such cases street vending area in Siam Square, Silom, or Bobea were not successful as expected. Or in some cases the clearance and allocation had done successful only in a short period and not standing still. As can be seen from the return to vending space. Moreover, illegal street vendors are still increase dramatically. The study shows top down management, use of force to suppress or forced allocation without public partition process of understanding together to find solutions together to reflect on the context and the needs of the public, including households with street vendors. The Participatory planning is a tool that has been widely accepted and used in the planning of the development and widespread. Because the process of discussion is important in helping to coordinate incompatibilities, conflicts and work together to find solutions that lead to a common agreement among the stakeholders (government, private and public), however, bringing the discussion to organize street vendors cannot be applied directly. Due to the characteristics of street vendors in Bangkok by a trade system that is linked to the informal network of other related benefits, both directly and indirectly. The structure of the stakeholders are complex and difficult to get cooperation to reveal his identity to contribute to discussions.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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