Street Vending in South Africa: An Entrepreneurial Occupation

Fadia Gamieldien

Abstract


Background: Not all occupations are undertaken entirely by choice. Numerous personal, cultural, economic and social factors influence participation in occupation. In low and middle-income countries, such as South Africa, disparate socio-economic factors might necessitate participation in occupations considered to be ‘less desirable’. In this article the occupation of street vending is explored and discussed, with an emphasis on livelihood creation and the meaning and purpose derived from this occupation. Street vending is considered for its potential as a vocational occupation for people facing disabling conditions.

Methods: A collective case study was done comprising six participants who were selected through maximum variation sampling. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews and participant observation. Data analysis took the form of an inductive content analysis.

Results: Occupational therapists need a comprehensive understanding of occupations before making judgements about these, especially when such occupations are not considered mainstream. One such occupation, namely street vending, predominates in the informal economy of South Africa. Findings revealed that, despite hardships associated with this occupation, street vendors adapt to social, political and economic challenges in their context.

Recommendations: A comprehensive approach is needed when appraising the suitability of occupations; one that focuses on the transformative value of occupations in livelihood creation, rather than focusing narrowly on their therapeutic use or potential to contribute to personal meaning. Occupational therapists should adopt a multi-dimensional approach by considering vocational occupations within their social, cultural and political context, whilst keeping the functional requirement in mind and matching these dimensions with impairment or disability if prevalent.

 

Key words:  street vending; livelihood creation; informal economy; occupation; occupational justice


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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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