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  6. Precarious lives in motion. Ambulant vending in three Global South cities

Precarious lives in motion. Ambulant vending in three Global South cities

Principal Investigator: Prof. Rosina Márquez Reiter (The Open University)

Researchers: Dr. Marina Cantarutti, Dr. Elizabeth Manrique Cordeje

In collaboration with: CITRA, Buenos Aires; UGTI, Colombia, InEAC, Rio de Janeiro

Focus countries: Argentina, Brazil and Colombia  

Dates: 2021 - 2025

The pilot study explores the livelihood strategies of a group of workers that contribute to the popular economy: ambulant vendors (AVs) in the city centre of three Global South capitals. It offers on the-ground knowledge of AVs’ working lives to understand the diversity of approaches they use as they conduct their work activity in public space to secure a living.  In particular, the study investigates the persuasive strategies of AVs in their natural contexts in order to outline their multimodal (lexico-grammatical, prosodic, gestural, kinesic) characteristics and how these relate to the structural and material conditions they inhabit in their daily work (e.g., limited choice over products to sell, management of merchandise on the move, sharing of space with pedestrians, passers-by and transport passengers and, civil inattention by members of the public). 
By drawing on different types of information -namely video recordings of their situated work activity  , the study aims to contextualise, understand and analyse as fully as possible the interactions that are carried out during the AVs’ work rounds, as well as to observe the individual and collective activity of ambulant sales, and capture the problems and risks that AVs encounter in their daily work activities and their relationship with the linguistic practices they engage in. The results are meant to inform our understanding of ways in which AVs could have their work deficits alleviated, such as providing free access to toilets , lockers and better-quality products for their sales.

Centre for the Study of Global Development

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