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

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/07/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Information Technology for Development
Issue number2-3
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)184-204
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date7/12/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


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.