Building a resilient city for whom? Learning from street vendors’ gendered responses to urbanisation in Hanoi
In Hanoi, agricultural production and trading systems have changed since the macro-economic reform in the late 1980s, and the subsequent urbanisation of the city affected livelihoods of smallholders from both peri-urban and rural areas. However, the impacts of change are unevenly distributed among urban populations. Some smallholders took advantage of the socio-economic changes as great economic opportunity, while others had few options in their adaptation strategies. People’s different responses to change then influence the city’s social structures through processes such as urban-rural migration and the marginalisation of the poor in informal food systems. Drawing upon examples of street vendors in Hanoi, this study explores the different ways in which male and female street vendors respond to change and how their responses shape current informal food systems in Hanoi.
To explore this question we conducted in-depth-interviews with 50 street vendors (28 females, 13 males and nine couples) from eight different sites in four districts. Questions were structured by the theoretical frameworks drawn from critical social theory (Connell, 2009). Gender analysis, grounded in critical social theory, can explore the roles of gendered agency and gendered relationships in the processes of adaptation. While issues of access are often considered in relation to economic resources, gender analysis supports the concept of access that moves beyond economic notions to describe social relationships as a resource (Ribot and Peluso, 2003). Social relations are highly gendered and negotiated through gendered agency, through which women negotiate with those who have greater access to resources and/or build mutual support relations with their family, co-villagers and friends. The present approach facilitates an exploration of individual adaptability built upon the institutions of family and village through gendered interdependent relationships.