Theory and Society

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 217–238 | Cite as

Symbolic capital, informal labor, and postindustrial markets: the dynamics of street vending during the 2014 world cup in São Paulo

  • Jacinto CuviEmail author


In contrast to industrial markets based on mass-production of material goods, postindustrial markets hinge on images, experiences, and emotions produced and exchanged on screens and in real life. Because postindustrial markets tend to be highly concentrated and technology-driven, they pose a threat to small businesses and low-skill workers in both advanced industrial economies and the Global South, where a large share of the population makes a living in the informal economy. Using the 2014 World Cup as a case of postindustrial economic activity hinged on spectacle, emotional experience, and intellectual property, I analyze the income-making strategies used by street vendors in São Paulo, Brazil. I show that organizers’ control of fan markets was limited by local conceptions of ownership over national symbols as well as informal workers’ flexible relation to legal norms and enforcement-dodging practices. Circumventing market barriers required risky and sophisticated strategies, however, which were more readily available to the more marginal section of the street vending population.


Brazil Intellectual property rights Policing Social exclusion Sports mega-events Urban poverty 



I am grateful to Javier Auyero, Philip Balsiger, Fred Block, Ari Adut, Etienne Piguet, Daniel Powers, Philip Oxhorn, Bryan Roberts, Calla Hummel, and Nadya Guimarães for helpful comments and support. An earlier version of this article was presented in Neuchatel at the Rencontres Scientifiques de la MAPS. This research was supported by a studentship from the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies, a Doc.Mobility grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation, and a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation (#1434160).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de SociologieUniversité de NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland

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