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Cityscape: Volume 18 Number 1 | Article 3


Contesting the Streets

Volume 18, Number 1

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

The Critical Role of Street Vendor Organizations in Relocating Street Vendors Into Public Markets: The Case of Hsinchu City, Taiwan

Chia Yang Weng
Hsinchu City Government, Taiwan

Annette M. Kim
University of Southern California


This article analyzes how the Hsinchu municipal government in Taiwan was able in one instance to successfully relocate street vendors into a thriving public market, the Zhu Lian market, but failed in another instance to replicate this success with the Guan Dong market. These two cases both involved in situ relocation of street vendors with similar economic situations. Fieldwork and key informant interviews with vendors and government officials were carried out in Hsinchu City, Taiwan, in 2012.

The research finds that street vendor organizations play a crucial role during the relocation process. In game theory terms, the organization can shape the multiplayer dynamic game of relocating a large number of vendors to overcome the prisoner’s dilemma and play a cooperative game for mutual benefits. The article also discusses the potential pitfalls of relying on strong vendor organizations in managing street vendors in the city. Increasing the authority and autonomy of organizational leaders can enable them to bypass lower-ranking officers and negotiate directly with high-ranking officers and politicians, fostering a political patronage system in the city.

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