Kathrin Hopfgartner (2013)


A right to public space? Informal trade in the context of urban interventions on the example of Quito, Ecuador.

Abstract   This thesis assumes that public spaces are places that take on the role of a mediator between different social groups. Against this background, the case study discusses the urban intervention at the Boulevard Naciones Unidas in Quito, Ecuador. In Quito, public spaces like the Boulevard are structural elements of city planning. Profit oriented aspects are a central topic in it. This is caused by the need of entrepreneurial cities to strengthen their position in the global competition for acknowledgment and investments and to increase their competitiveness. The neoliberal restructuring process had enduring consequences in Latin America. This caused the augmentation of social inequalities and therefore a progressing spatial fragmentation. Furthermore, and as a main effect of neoliberal reforms, employment in the informal sector increased massively. The main focus of this study is the resultant conflict between the municipality and the informal traders who are working in public space. This very contentious topic will be discussed in terms of the empirical case study where many informal traders had to disappear because of the urban renewal. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that the “mediating” role of public spaces (as for instance the Boulevard) is questionable and put under pressure because of the measures of urban renewal. Due to this fact, there are different priorities on the Boulevard: While the interests of tourism play a major role in this area, the informal trade is not very welcome. This fact demonstrates the contradictions of the urban policies concerning the public space.
Submitted   Philologisch-Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät, University of Vienna
Supervision   Assoc. Prof. Dr. phil. DI (FH) Sabine Knierbein
Cooperation   WTZ research cooperation Austria-Argentinia (Binational project between Vienna Technical University in Austria and the Centro de Estudios Urbanos y Regionales CEUR-CONICET in Buenos Aires, Argentina)