Migration and Entry to Urban Street Food Market: A Study of Selected Street Food Vendors in Delhi

  • Aditi KunduEmail author
  • Sayak Dutta
Part of the Contemporary South Asian Studies book series (CSAS)


Gender- or caste-based segmentation within the informal sector economy is a well-documented phenomenon. However, no systematic study exists on the subject of spatial segmentation in the urban informal market. Considerations on disparity levels—usually the chief motivation behind studies on caste or gender—are not paramount here; our prime concern involves rather the mechanisms leading (or not) to such a segmentation within a small sector of the urban economy. Also, the main aim of this paper is not so much to find out if there is spatial segmentation but to identify the underlying causes behind the entry into the market. The street food market is selected as field of study because of the strong cultural identity associated with food. A primary survey with 185 samples was conducted in New Delhi. Sampling was done purposively for nine large markets and within the market; all vendors of selected food items were surveyed. Although a structured questionnaire is in the survey, a large part of the processes aiming at understanding the phenomenon were based on qualitative interactions with the responders rather than strictly quantitative information. The major findings of the study show a strong regional identity imbued in the food. Stream migration from particular regions to New Delhi is identified as the driving force behind the segregation found in the food market and between food vendors. Further probing shows that the vendors’ entry into the market is done on the basis of social contact between related individuals and social groups, which includes financial aid to the new arrivals; the mechanism lying behind occupational segregation in the informal labour market is also shown.


Chain migration Street food market Urban informal economy Regionally based segregation 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

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