MIT SLAB

sidewalk laboratory

street vendor interviews

During 2010, pairing American and Vietnamese team members, SLAB conducted roughly 270 interviews with sidewalk vendors in six different wards of Ho Chi Minh City. We learned about the structure of their economic livelihoods, how they chose their location in the city, whether they had migrated to HCMC from another part of the country, and their interactions with police, property abutters, other vendors, and customers. ┬áThe most surprising finding was the many accounts of empathy: people hiding them when they are chased, giving them free water and electricity, storing their goods overnight, helping to carry their load. This situation provides fertile grounds for exploring how society can re-narrate and legitimize vendors’ use of sidewalk space.