Traditional environments consist not only of physical buildings and spaces but also the people and their activities
which take place within them. This paper examines some aspects of the interrelationship between people and places.
Traditional social values are believed to be undermined by the harsh imperatives of survival in the expanding urban
areas of the developing world. The collaborative nature of many rural societies can be contrasted with the hard, individualistic
and competitive character of life in developing cities. Unregulated, urban, economic processes in particular
are assumed to be antagonistic towards gemeinschaft ideals because the logic of the market has little respect for nonmonetary
However one of the key characteristics of many informal economies is the ability of participants to draw creatively
and flexibly on all potential resources: human, material and spatial. This is particularly evident in households and settlements
where a significant proportion of the economic activity is within micro scale, home-based enterprises (HBEs). By
blurring and re-configuring the spatial and conceptual boundaries between work and home, between production and
reproduction, many households are able to generate income to sustain themselves. Intrinsic to these processes are the
linkages and exchanges between neighbours and residents, many of which are based on cultural and religious value
systems which can be supportive of the economic activities taking place.
This paper will explore aspects of the interrelationship between economic and social processes through the use of
empirical data collected during periods of participant observation in a consolidated informal urban settlement (kampung)
in the city of Surabaya, Indonesia. Detailed household case studies will be used to illustrate how income generation
activities are embedded within social networks and how in many cases traditional collaborative cultural values directly
reinforce economic production. This is echoed in the use of space, particularly the overlapping and shared use of streets
and alleyways. The paper concludes that despite severe economic constraints many traditional values facilitate survival
in times of crisis and can be conducive to longer term sustainability.
Keywords: Home based economic activities, social networks, traditional spaces
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