Formalization policies are an internationally endorsed state intervention for the informal economy, however, the policy thus far has failed to consistently provide informal economy actors benefits of formality as theorized. This paper explores state intervention from an overlooked nexus of informal economy and discipline. This paper contrasts a process of formalization and discipline using the case of street food vendors on Yoawarat Road, Bangkok, Thailand, to show that formalization is being appropriated as a strategy for state construction and modernity. The paper explores ways in which government intervention has shaped the business operations of street food vendors. Findings show that vendors have their own norms and practices to organize their activities, but these are replaced by government measures in order to construct a modern and disciplined enclosure. Using disciplinary mechanisms the government is able to control the vendor’s body and mind with regulations similar to those prevalent in the formal economy, but without formalizing them. The findings from this paper need to be confirmed in a state with a more democratic system.

Additional Metadata
Keywords informal economy, formalization, discipline, street vendors, modernity, Bangkok
Thesis Advisor Goméz, G.M. (Georgina)
Persistent URL
Series Governance and Development Policy (GDP)
Chawla, S. (2017, December 15). Informal yet disciplined? Thai government policies on street food. Governance and Development Policy (GDP). Retrieved from