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The role of social and cultural capital for Vietnamese markets

THIS PANEL HAS BEEN CANCELLED

Organiser:
Ms Phuong Nguyen Hoang My
Independent Researcher
menfuong@gmail.com

Chair:
Ms Lisa Barthelmes
Max Planck Institute
lisa.barthelmes@gmail.com

Discussant
Ms Lisa Barthelmes
Max Planck Institute
lisa.barthelmes@gmail.com

 

A market, a “commodity context” (Appadurai 1986), is the best place to study the society because “its trade takes place within a complex array of social ties and institutions without which economic activity could not occur” (Bestor 2004). There are now over 9,000 traditional Vietnamese markets in which about 80% of goods are transported, reported by the Vietnam Retailers Association, as well as many overseas Vietnamese markets around the world.
In addition to (economic) capital essentially required for business, it is by no means ignored social and cultural capital.
The way people perceive themselves, others and the world will determine their behaviors. In contemporary Vietnam, for example, the state strategically uses the rhetoric of ‘civilization’ as an ideological framework to promulgate its vision of Hanoi’s future. Therefore, one decisive measure to realize a modern city is the Decree on the Development and Management of Marketplaces which was issued in 2003 and consists of a procedural framework for the “development, investment, classification, organisation, regulation and management of all marketplaces”. The government’s plan to build and develop a “socialist, prosperous, beautiful, civilized, elegant, modern capital” plays a crucial role in understanding the recent approach towards small scale trade and market places. Thus, through state discourses, urbanites’ perceptions and street vendors or traders’ re-interpretations then policies and actions have been made.
Trust, in the past, is often built amongst people who live together in the local community. From now on, however, in a world of globally quick transformation, our lives are influenced by people who may be living thousands of miles away and/or even we have never seen or known then trust or social capital can help to connect those who are rural-urban migrants, traders in local markets, and Vietnamese migrants in transnational ones.
In this panel we want to discuss the various aspects of social and cultural capital for Vietnamese markets.

 

Paper 1: Performing Ruralness – Itinerant Street Vendors in Hanoi

Ms Lisa Barthelmes
Max Planck Institute
lisa.barthelmes@gmail.com

This paper is based on my PhD thesis about itinerant street vendors in Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi street vendors are predominantly rural-urban migrants who come from the surrounding provinces to the capital to improve their income. I argue that even though reality renders the rural-urban dichotomy obsolete, essentialized discourses about the ‘rural’ as backward and the ‘urban’ as civilized continue to exist and are actively produced by the Vietnam state. These narratives then influence how Hanoians perceive rural urban migrants in general and itinerant street vendors in particular. I aim to show that stereotypes of the ‘rural migrant’ provide powerful tools for the state to govern its population and reinforce itinerant vendors’ marginal status. At the same time I want to draw attention on how itinerant street vendors appropriate these discourses of ‘ruralness’ and use them to their own advantage. By presenting data from fieldwork I conducted between July 2012 and November 2013, I will show that state discourses, urbanites’ perceptions and street vendors’ re-interpretations all contribute to the reproduction of the marginal status of rural-urban migrants in the city.

 

Paper 2: Social remittance behind the Vietnamese markets in Eastern Europe

Dr Hai Le Thanh
Polish Academy of Sciences
bantinphuongdong@yahoo.com

Trading garments is the backbone for the community life of Vietnamese migrants in Eastern Europe. They are proud of their trading centres like Chợ Đồng Xuân in Berlin and Wólka Kosowska in Warsaw, from where I have been running a community newspaper for several years. Social remittance offers a clear view into the way that social and cultural capital are exchanged along with monetary capital in order to build up a successful system of trading and transnational life.

 

Paper 3: Discourse, the Role of Traders, and Their Future Trajectory

Ms Phuong Nguyen Hoang My
Independent Researcher
menfuong@gmail.com

In order to review and examine the role of traders in Vietnam, it is essential to understand the discourse (Foucault, 1972) of it over time, because it is through the changed perceptions of the position of traders that policies and actions have been made. Moreover, power relationships in society are expressed through language and practices.
Through analysis of the data collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports of the past one hundred years, this paper aims to show how the role of traders has been perceived by themselves, the public and the authority and how it has changed.
When changes happen, it “permit[s] room for innovation, consciousness, and salvation proceed from new and relevant research” (Mead, 1970). Changes had been occurred in our ancestors’ thought of the purpose of private sector in the Duy Tan Movement in the early of the 20th century or in our thought of that in the 1986 Renovation when there was the fight between the old and new economic thinking, that is, the centrally-planned and market-oriented economy respectively. Likewise, we are now in a “liquid” (Bauman, 2000), “network” (Castells, 1996, 2000) and “risk society” (Beck, 1986). The world today is totally different. Therefore, should we again discover new ways to think and talk about the role of traders, to re-make and promote the identity of the Vietnamese traders, especially with diasporic Vietnamese (social capital (Putnam, 1993)), in the local and global context.