The Cultural Landscape Of Asian And Latin American Countries

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Street markets have always been a significant aspect of the cultural landscape of Asian and Latin American countries such as China, Thailand, India, Brazil and Mexico. These markets become creators of vital public space and with time, through their actions, appropriate loose space and make a permanent place for themselves in the collective memory of people, eventually contributing to the cultural identity of these neighborhoods. Yet, this potential of markets to become successful and vibrant social spaces and a solution to the class divided hierarchical cities of today, is often not acknowledged or accepted by civic authorities. The State’s policy towards these street markets in developing countries has largely been to eliminate
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Informal Markets: Creators of Public Space
Public Markets play a central role in the formation of public culture and have an articulated relationship with space and society. They morphologically shape space and also shape social networks and economic systems. A large share of market not absorbed by formal economic activities becomes a part of the informal market. It also represents a significant percentage of the national economy, and guarantees jobs to a large number of people. They are rather a sign of heroic entrepreneurship (Hernando de Soto 2000), or of ‘informal survivalism’ as (Mike David 2004) puts it, a primarily mode of livelihood in majority of the Third World countries. Through their act of an informalized production of space, they maximize limited space or create space where no space exists in commercially viable prime locations, thereby creating an economic opportunity out of it and social space as a by-product.
While market places fulfil economic considerations, by providing an alternative means of livelihoods to millions, they also perform an indispensable social function by becoming communal spaces, giving life to neighborhoods. Overtime, they become an intrinsic part of the cultural landscape of any neighborhood or city and become places of social gathering at the street level. They act as a catchment area for a community, and provide food, entertainment and social interaction and hence, they successfully
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