Tissi MC. Deficiência e trabalho no setor informal: considerações sobre processos de inclusão e exclusão social. [Disability and work in the informal sector: considerations concerning processes of social inclusion and exclusion.] Saúde e Sociedade [Health and Society] ( São Paulo , Brazil ) 2000: 9(1-2): 77-86.

Objectives: To analyze the situation of disabled laborers who work as street vendors in São Paulo, Brazil, focusing on their experience of social exclusion and, paradoxically, of social inclusion as well.

Methodology: Interviews, surveys and participant observation.

Results: Itinerant and street-based business is located in the informal sector of the economy, within the interstices of capitalist production. This mode of work enables its practitioners to sustain their families and to obtain access to the consumption of goods and material resources. The workers’ connection to economic life expresses itself symbolically in the sense that they feel that they are working and thus do not visualize themselves as vagabonds or as persons who lack the ability to earn a living. Such self-perception is important to people with disabilities.

The author’s research into the work histories of disabled people engaged in itinerant business indicates that they previously held low-paying, part-time jobs which failed to provide them with social security coverage and that they had attained a low level of education.

The author analyzes the personal experiences of disabled people involved in this type of economic activity and describes the dynamic of social exclusion-inclusion that they undergo, as well as the objective conditions facilitating such experiences.

Conclusions: Despite the negative effects which this type of work exerts on people with disabilities, those interviewed displayed energy in the face of adversity and developed strategies for survival.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico