Kwarteng (2020). Our existence matters: Experiences and belonging of urban space

Our existence matters: Experiences and belonging of urban space from street hawkers perspective – a case study of La-Nkwantanang-Madina municipal area

The study examines the experiences of street hawkers and contributes to the current but less represented debate on hawkers’ ways of appropriating the urban space through space modification and codification that serve greatly their capitalist purposes and how those daily activities influence their sense of belonging to the urban public space. The hawkers in the study area; La-Nkwantanang-Madina Area, Ghana show some social concerns in their informal day-to-day street activities that account for some of the relocation issues that render the repressive measures of city authorities futile.

In understanding the space appropriation and sense of belonging from the hawker’s perspective, the study introduces the concept of “right to the city” for which the purpose of this study conceptualizes it as “the right to the street” so it can better attend to the experiences of place and sense of belonging by the hawkers, the informality concept and the urban citizenship. The study uses qualitative approach which included methods; participant observation, in-depth interviews and Focus group discussion to help unearth some of the issues that contribute to the debate.

The research finds that although the space contestations between the street hawkers and city officials still lingers on, the hawkers are able to successfully reproduce their belonging to the urban streets through exchange value of space and the diversification of urban streets which forms part of the urban fabric without dominating the streets to obstruct the use value for other urban dwellers.