Street vending in provincial Peru: A geographical analysis of an informal economic activity

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




David Robinson


Street vending, Peru, Third World economies, Latin America, Cultural anthropology

Subject Categories



Informal economic activities are a vital and integral component of the general economy of most Third World cities. These activities are found in nearly all facets of the urban economy, and they provide important, often essential, services. Streetvending is the most ubiquitous and visible informal economic activity in most Latin American cities. Yet, remarkably little is known about this activity and the individuals who are engaged in it.

The present study presents a national-level sample survey of streetvending in six departmental capitals of Peru. The organizational, economic, spatial and cultural aspects of streetvending are explored in order to understand how streetvendors organize and conduct their activities. Data were gathered over a twelve-month period through direct participation in the daily life and related aspects of streetvending as well as through detailed drawings, surveys, interviews and review of documentary records.

Streetvending in provincial Peru is a ubiquitous occupation that crosses social, economic, political, gender and institutional lines. In the context of Peru's troubled national economy, streetvending has proven to be a viable occupation for varied types of individuals. Streetvending plays a particularly vital role in the generation of employment, output, municipal income and multiplier effects in the regional economy of most provincial centers. It is closely linked to the social, physical and institutional aspects of specific urban settings. The existence of detailed municipal policies for streetvendors, extensive family networks of streetvendors, and effective streetvendor trade unions are institutionalizing the role of streetvendors in urban affairs.


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