Publication and research - Quentin Batreau
SPD lecturer, Quentin Batreau has published earlier this year an academic article titled “Managed Informality: Regulating street vendors in Bangkok” in City&Community, a journal edited by Columbia University. The article details how the Thai administration deals with street vendors in Bangkok through the analysis of one street: Soi Rangnam. The core argument of the article is that though the vendors are “illegal”, they are in fact respecting the rules set by the local administration who has created a parallel legal system, similar in all ways to the law, and yet deeply incompatible.
Hence, there are degrees in informality in Soi Rangnam. Vendors are unconcerned with their legal status; what matters in their everyday activities is whether they are registered with the district administration and given the (informal) authorization to work. All vendors work in a precarious situation. Unregistered vendors are harassed, and registered vendors may be evicted because they lack property rights. Still, vendors are aware that they are better off registered than unregistered. The district administration in Soi Rangnam offers privileges to long-established, registered vendors (yet still “waiting for regularization”). None of the registered vendors complained about the district administration’s rules during interviews. Once they are registered, street vendors support the administration in the perpetuation of the system. Since they respect rules at a cost (the monthly fine, no working on Mondays, etc.), they are incentivized to report free riders. They know the rules and they make sure that unregistered vendors cannot settle permanently.
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