Interviews With Mexico City Market Traders Regarding the Adoption of Digital Technologies and Practices for Political Purposes, 2022

Tellez Contreras, Leon Felipe (2023). Interviews With Mexico City Market Traders Regarding the Adoption of Digital Technologies and Practices for Political Purposes, 2022. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Service. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-855886

Marketplaces play a vital role in the everyday life of many urban communities. They are part of the supply systems that make food and other basic staples accessible to urban residents, and in many cities around the world, they also represent significant public spaces where social connections and forms of belonging are built. Either covered or open, marketplaces have increasingly become essential infrastructures for low-income and marginalised urban residents, who rely on their affordable prices for subsistence. This contribution to people's subsistence largely depends on the vibrant economic, social, cultural, and political life of market trader communities, whose efforts to keep these commercial infrastructures working are permanent. The aim of this fellowship is to disseminate and consolidate my research findings concerning the traders' permanent efforts to keep the marketplaces alive. In doing so, the fellowship will help to better understand the long-standing contribution of grassroots organisations to infrastructure and city-making. The fellowship also aims to encourage an international conversation between academics, marketplaces' stakeholders, and practitioners about their experiences in infrastructure governance. In this way, the fellowship will facilitate knowledge exchange concerning the challenges embedded in infrastructure provision, maintenance, and transformation. Focused on these two aims, the fellowship will contribute to envision alternatives to current trends in infrastructure governance from a grassroots perspective which recognises and values the work and political experience of key workers such as market traders. For this, the fellowship builds upon my PhD research, which explored Mexico City's trader community and its public markets' network, which comprises more than 70,000 traders and 329 commercial facilities. These actors and spaces have developed what I have conceptualised as popular infrastructural politics to fight against political neglect and infrastructure abandonment and deterioration. Rather than seeing grassroots politics as discrete, fragile, or ephemeral, popular infrastructural politics seeks to capture the existence of long-standing grassroots political traditions that revolve around the rights to subsistence, infrastructure, and the city. My fieldwork revealed that market traders have been able to forge these long-standing political traditions around public markets, making popular infrastructural politics a crucial practice to defending an essential service for the marginalised. Furthermore, through popular infrastructural politics, Mexico City market traders have not only developed strategies to shape marketplaces governance at a local scale but infrastructure provision and law and policymaking at the city and national levels for the past 70 years. The proposed activities for this fellowship will take these conceptual and empirical contributions further through publications, an international online workshop, a project's website, a podcast series, and new research. These dissemination and engagement activities will seek to maximise the impact of my research findings by engaging with both theory and practice on infrastructure governance. They will also seek to inform public opinion by raising awareness of the contributions of marginalised urban actors to infrastructure provision, maintenance, and transformation and city-making in general. This research on popular politics and infrastructure governance is relevant in a context in which governments and the public have widely acknowledged the importance and value of key workers and essential services. Therefore, the activities and outputs proposed under this fellowship will not only be significant to those directly related to marketplaces, but to anyone involved or interested in the long-term grassroots struggles to keep safe and running essential urban infrastructure.

Data description (abstract)

The data consist of six transcripts of semi-structured interviews conducted online with market trader leaders in Mexico City. These interviews result from complementary research conducted as part of the ESRC postdoctoral project "Popular infrastructural politics: Connecting grassroots knowledge and practice on marketplace governance." This project builds on data collected in 2018, whose analysis led to the findings published in the doctoral thesis "Popular infrastructural politics: Trader organisation and public markets in Mexico City" ( These exploratory interviews delve into the traders' adoption of digital technologies and practices in recent years (from the late 2000s onwards). Particular attention is given to how these technologies and practices have been mobilised in the traders' struggles to preserve and improve Mexico City's public markets as public infrastructures and services. The interviews capture the traders' opinions and experiences concerning the function and importance of these technologies and practices in their everyday life. In addition, the interviews provide insights into the role of digital technologies and practices in organising and resisting the impacts of urban regeneration and the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, this complementary research contributes to expanding the analysis of the market traders' political repertoires and diverse engagements in urban politics. Interviewees were recruited among research participants met while conducting the aforementioned doctoral project. Interview scripts were designed to explore the participants' engagement with digital technologies and practices. Because of their specificity, the interviews often rely on interviews and informal conversations previously held with the researcher. The interview transcripts are shared in their original language, Spanish. They have been anonymised and pseudonymised to ensure the participant's right to confidentiality.

Data creators:
Creator Name Affiliation ORCID (as URL)
Tellez Contreras Leon Felipe The University of Sheffield 0000-0003-1468-4119
Sponsors: ESRC
Grant reference: ES/W005476/1
Topic classification: Media, communication and language
Trade, industry and markets
Society and culture
Project title: Popular infrastructural politics: Connecting grassroots knowledge and practice on marketplace governance
Grant holders: Leon Felipe Tellez Contreras
Date published: 22 Sep 2022 13:49
Last modified: 07 Feb 2023 14:41

Available Files



Read me


data downloads and page views since this item was published

View more statistics


No resources to display

Edit item (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item