Staying Well on the Margins of the Formal Economy: Exploring Occupational Health and Treatment among Peruvian Vendors in the Urban Marketplace

Amy Blaisdell
2012 Social Science Research Network  
With a growing percentage of the world's population living in urban areas, many people in cities are increasingly participating in economic activities on the margins of the formal economy. Many such workers generate income by vending goods on a small-scale level in and around traditional open-aired marketplaces. As a setting for health, marketplaces have been studied largely in the interest of consumer safety but less in terms of occupational health. This study explores the health of market
more » ... ealth of market vendors with a health promotion lens. It assumes health to be a holistic concept that considers the physical and psychosocial affects that vendors experience as a result of their work. Situated in the Andes, I describe how traditional concepts of health and well-being related to social reciprocity and ritual payments to the natural surroundings inform vendors' everyday health practices in a market located in the city of Arequipa, in the southern Andes of Peru. Data interpreted through socio-economic frameworks describes how one's social status, inside and outside the market, as well as social networks, affect health and rationale of treatment choices, largely in terms of biomedical and traditional methods. It was found that the nature of vendor's work represents a challenge to maintaining health in relation to both biomedical and traditional health practices. Findings suggest that treatment decisions may be motivated by demands of work, but also made as a means to re-enforce social relationships that go on to support one's economic well-being.
doi:10.2139/ssrn.2234465 fatcat:jvyyykq5czcxnpby5lznmk5c6m