Place-making and communication practice: Everyday precarity in a night market in Hong Kong

Abstract

Drawing insights from the literature around cultural discourse theory, urban informality, and precarity, this article explores how a group of unlicensed hawkers in Hong Kong engage in a place-making process of precarity. Existing research on precarity has examined the structural change in the labor market in advanced economies and labor unions’ collective resistance. Few empirical studies, however, have explicated how informal workers experience precarity in their everyday life. To contribute to this literature, therefore, this study examines how hawkers in Hong Kong constitute their class identities and the meanings of place while facing legal and spatial ambiguities on a daily basis. While interlocutors articulate different class identities, they constitute themselves as precarious beings through spatial practice. Rather than engaging in collective resistance against precarity, hawkers develop culturally distinctive practices to adapt to the power structure in which they operate. This article highlights the dialectical relationship between spatial practice and precarity as contextualizing precarity in developing Asia.

Publication
Space and Culture, 21(4), 439-454

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