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The case of informal trade in Recife
TheFormalising Regimeand
ItsFormalising Technology
Rui Roberto Ramos
& Niall Hayes
13...
Introduction
Empirical Focus
Recife, Brazil (April to October 2014)
Informal work as backward, inefficient and a force
aga...
Formalisation Plan
Aim
Build a public space capable of ’incorporating orderly
the commerce, which is informal and compromi...
Formalising Regime
Truth: Informality is a problem and it needs to be solved
Problem
mobility, unclean,
inhuman
Solution
f...
Formalising Regime
Informal Workers CSURB
CSURB military background
‘Inspection and seizure is the only weapon we have’
Co...
Formalising Technology
Technologies Used
excel metadata -> printed forms & hand-written paper
Formalomorphist IS Design
st...
Formalising Technology
Informal Workers CSURB
Friction structured/unstructured, other and coercion
‘I don’t know how to do...
Conclusion
The Formalising Regime acted as mechanism to
enforce a transition towards a modernist vision
of socio-economic ...
References
Attewell, P. (1991). Big Brother and the Sweatshop: Computer
Surveillance in the Automated Office, in C: Dunlop...
rui.ramos@lancaster.ac.uk
niall.hayes@lancaster.ac.uk
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The Formalising Regime and its Formalising Technology: The Case of Informal Commerce in Recife

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Presented at IFIP WG 9.4: 13th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, Negombo - Sri Lanka, 20-22 May, 2015.

Paper available at: https://www.academia.edu/12830883/The_Formalising_Regime_and_its_Formalising_Technology_The_Case_of_Informal_Trade_in_Recife

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this paper is to consider how valuation is performed within informal markets in the global south. Specifically, the paper addresses this topic with reference to empirical data garnered from an ethnographic study of urban piracy markets in Recife, Brazil. These markets are composed of piracy hawkers - street sellers using mobile piracy stalls equipped with a CD player, car battery and speakers, who walk the streets playing and selling copied CDs. Overall we seek to explain how the evaluation of music media products is entangled with the informal urban assemblages of piracy markets. We draw on Science and Technology Studies (STS) literature on assemblages and specifically moments of valuation (Antal et al 2015) and argue that the valuation of music media is spatially and temporally located and collectively performed as a contingent process that takes place within the informal assemblages of people, materials and technologies which daily emerge on the crowded sidewalks. In this context, valuation is collectively enacted and the dissonance in relation to new musical products is collectively negotiated trough the inscription of sonorous boundaries of belonging and difference that shape the spatiality and collective identity of urban daily life in Recife.

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The Formalising Regime and its Formalising Technology: The Case of Informal Commerce in Recife

  1. 1. The case of informal trade in Recife TheFormalising Regimeand ItsFormalising Technology Rui Roberto Ramos & Niall Hayes 13th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries Negombo - Sri Lanka, 20-22 May, 2015
  2. 2. Introduction Empirical Focus Recife, Brazil (April to October 2014) Informal work as backward, inefficient and a force against development Formalisation enforces “appropriate economic behaviour” based on modernist ideologies of structured governance by regulating who can sell what and where Research Questions 1) How are informal workers managed? 2) What is the role of ICT in this? Theoretical Framework Foucault power/knowledge & regimes of truth Methodology In depth ethnography focusing on formalisation processes, informal workers, officials & fiscals from CSURB*) *CSURB: Dpt. Of Mobility and Urban Control of Recife City Council
  3. 3. Formalisation Plan Aim Build a public space capable of ’incorporating orderly the commerce, which is informal and compromises the fluidity and mobility of citizens’ Objectives 1) Regulation trough licensing of workers to work in ‘disciplined’ sites with ‘standardized’ stalls and products 2) Issue penalties to worker’s ‘deviances’ Processes 1) Controlling existent informal work 2) Registering in a database 3) Surveying deviances and filtering candidates
  4. 4. Formalising Regime Truth: Informality is a problem and it needs to be solved Problem mobility, unclean, inhuman Solution formalisation Premises affects ‘citizen’s mobility’ Premises ‘order’, ‘standardisation’ Implies un-citizenship Implies citizenship Materialized ‘clean’ and ‘humanize’ Materialized control and surveillance’ Informal Workers CSURB Mobility as the overall issue 'They complain but we need to ensure citizens’ mobility’ Informal workers as non citizens 'We will remove them to leave the sidewalks clean’ ‘Our plan is to humanize the streets’ Against traders and their local business practices ‘A person worthy of his work needs not be mistreated’ ‘We go where the person is. The person wont go to a mall’
  5. 5. Formalising Regime Informal Workers CSURB CSURB military background ‘Inspection and seizure is the only weapon we have’ Constant psychological warfare ’You’re out today. Tomorrow we’ take it away. After tomorrow you’ll get a notification. It’s psychological pressure’ Reallocation to disciplined sites to facilitate control ‘It is difficult to control the streets. This makes it easier’ Overarching ambition of eradicating street trade ‘Is a palliative measure. (…) no new licenses will be issued’ Truth: Informality is a problem and it needs to be solved Problem mobility, unclean, inhuman Solution formalisation Political Aim informality/in-mobility disempowerment through un-citizenship Political Aim formality/citizenship achieve total control total erradicatication
  6. 6. Formalising Technology Technologies Used excel metadata -> printed forms & hand-written paper Formalomorphist IS Design standardizing rules (1-1 + 1LPFM); Making the deviations ‘visible’ and filtering candidates CSURB Modernist appeal & camouflaged surveillance ‘first they did not believe it but when they realized they had no alternative they began to run after to register’ ’they don’t bug me this way (hand writing)’ Truth: Informality is a problem and it needs to be solved Problem mobility, unclean, inhuman Solution formalisation ICT 4 Acquiring Truth Register deviances apply discipline and punish ICT 4 Acquiring Truth control informality filter candidates
  7. 7. Formalising Technology Informal Workers CSURB Friction structured/unstructured, other and coercion ‘I don’t know how to do it in excel’ ‘why change the “other”? It’s where we find out everything’ Appropriation and 1LPFM sabotage Everyone dopes it! You have to be one for the other right?!’ Appropriation and facilitation of control ‘If anyone out there puts a stall here I’ll report it’ Truth: Informality is a problem and it needs to be solved Problem mobility, unclean, inhuman Solution formalisation Technological False form’s white spaces notes, digital ‘other’, red highlight Technological True no notes, nor ‘other, nor red highlight Implications of False fees, apprehension, Implications of True Becomes licensed or
  8. 8. Conclusion The Formalising Regime acted as mechanism to enforce a transition towards a modernist vision of socio-economic order where informality had no place to exist • Legitimised trough mobility & un-citizenship • Applied through control, surveillance & discipline (Foucault, 2007, 1977) • Based on formalomorphism (Cross 2000) ICT within the regime apparatus • IS design (1-1) -> obstructed solutions (N-N) (Poster, 1990) • IS design (other) -> ‘subject’ made of ‘deviances‘- > shaped control (Bowker and Star, 1999) • Socio-political context (ratios) rather than technical rationality, sabotaged modernistic 1LPFM (Attewell, 1991) The Formalising Technology reinforced the position of the municipality crystalizing the unequal power given to traders and formalising their existent inequalities
  9. 9. References Attewell, P. (1991). Big Brother and the Sweatshop: Computer Surveillance in the Automated Office, in C: Dunlop and R. Kling, eds, Computerization and Controversy: Value Conflicts and Social Choices, Academic Press, Boston. Bowker, G. C. & Star, S. L., (1999). Sorting things out: Classification and its consequences. Cambridge, MIT press. Cross, J. (2000). Street vendors, and postmodernity: conflict and compromise in the global economy. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 20(1/2), pp.29–51. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Penguin, London. Foucault, M. (2007). Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France 1977- 1978 (Picador, New York). Foucault, M. (2007). Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France 1977- 1978 (Picador, New York). Poster, M. (1990) The Mode Of Information: Poststructuralism and Social Context. Polity Press, Cambridge.
  10. 10. rui.ramos@lancaster.ac.uk niall.hayes@lancaster.ac.uk

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