Informal Politics: Street Vendors and the State in Mexico City

Synopsis

As economic crises struck the Third World in the 1970's and 1980's, large segments of the population turned to the informal economy to survive. Though this phenomenon has previously been analyzed from a strictly economic point of view, this book looks at street vending in the largest city in the world, Mexico City, as a political process. Employing a street-level analysis based on intensive participant observation, with interviews, archival research, and surveys, the author gives a view of political processes that provides new theoretical insights into our understanding of social movements, state institutions, and politics at the fringe of society, where legality blurs into illegality and the informal economy intersects with its political counterpoint - informal politics. By studying political processes at the street level and then tracing them up the political structure, the author also reveals the basic processes by which the Mexican state operates.