E-formality and data justice:the individualization of street trade in Recife, Brazil

Ramos, Rui Roberto and Hayes, Niall and Tarafdar, Monideepa (2023) E-formality and data justice:the individualization of street trade in Recife, Brazil. Information Technology for Development, 29 (2-3). pp. 184-204. ISSN 0268-1102

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Informal street trade has historically been seen by local authorities as backward, inefficient, and detrimental to urban areas and thus, has been subject to formalization policies. This paper reports on an ethnographic study of a project that sought to formalize street trade in Recife (Brazil). Street trade was presented by the City Council as hindering urban mobility, unhygienic and detrimental to the development of the city. A spreadsheet was developed to record, license and enforce the formalization of street trade. The spreadsheet and its classification scheme expanded the possibilities of control over individual street vendors. We will argue that formalization requires street traders to be rendered objects and subjects of knowledge. What this does is to individualize and discipline street trade. More substantially, we argue that the regulations and classification scheme shaped understandings of street trade as becoming individualized and this led to some contradictory implications for urban street trade.

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Journal Article
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Information Technology for Development
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19 Dec 2022 10:35
Last Modified:
19 Sep 2023 02:56