Governance of Surakarta’s Informal Sector: Implications for the Empowerment of Marginalized Stakeholders

Part of the Contemporary Systems Thinking book series (CST)


Street vending is one of informal sectors growing in Surakarta City of Indonesia. Officials in the Surakarta City Government claimed that the beauty of the city was worsening from increasing street vending activities. Using the political language of ‘empowerment of the poor’, the government decided to relocate about one thousand street vendors to a newly built ‘traditional’ market allocated for them in a location where known prostitution motions had been operated for decades. Formally the policy was intended to improve the street vendors’ livelihoods and ensure their future. Using ethnographic methods, the study found that the street vendors rejected the policy until the city government met all their demands or at least that the prostitution doings should be cleared from the offered relocation area. The city government then co-opted the leaders of the street vendors and of the prostitutes and procurers to support its policy. The policy implementation caused declines in the livelihoods of the powerless street vendors and former prostitutes and procurers. The city government had pledged that former procurers would be given rights to parcels of state-owned land that they had occupied, in some cases for decades, and former prostitutes given financial compensation. However, these promises were not kept and the lives of those who had earned their living in the prostitution trade deteriorated as they became unemployed. It was members of the Islamic-based local community with a concern for the lives of these marginalized people who acted to develop social capital to produce an alternative governance and empowerment for them.


Governance Cooptation Informal sector 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Study Program of Public Administration, Faculty of Social and Political ScienceUniversitas Sebelas MaretKota SurakartaIndonesia

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