Neighborhoods and their Impacts on the Informal Food Economy of Bengaluru


Informal work has received much attention in global policy and research over the past four decades, however, policy approaches have favoured an economic way of thinking about informality rather than a spatial or urban perspective. This article investigates city-scale trends within the informal food economy of Bengaluru, attempting to use a spatial lens to understand informal work. The study involved a large scale quantitative survey of informal food businesses in different kinds of neighborhoods across the city, as well as in-depth interviews with a smaller set of businesses. Through the survey and interviews, we studied the variety of business setups and their operations, occupational mobility and financial stability. This article attempts to demonstrate: (i) the diversity of outcomes for vendors over time, and (ii) how vendors’ occupational history and social networks play a role in creating (and closing off) vending opportunities, and (iii) how the spatial-economic structure of the city, defined here as specific land typologies, influences the operations and financial prospects of informal food businesses.