Photo of Alfonso Morales

Alfonso Morales

Urban and Regional Planning
Campus Affiliations
UW-Extension Specialist
104 Music Hall
Office Hours
By appointment only

Alfonso Morales studies food systems, public marketplaces, and street vendors, and the role and function that they serve in economic development. Using an innovative blend of the disciplines of sociology and urban planning, Morales has created a body of books, articles, book chapters, and other writing that provides practical insight into the ways that urban agriculture, food distribution, street-level economies and social interactions contribute to and influence community and economic development. He is among a small number of researchers who employ ethnographic field research methods to help inform contemporary theoretical debates about community food systems, public markets, space use, and street vending businesses. His primary dissertation research on Chicago’s Maxwell Street Market established the foundation for what has become a wider range of studies of the social, cultural, and economic factors that involved in the interactions between public marketplaces and the areas where they are established. His new research on community and regional food systems expands his intellectual and policy agenda through the $5 million dollar USDA-AFRI grant of which he is Project Co-Principle Investigator.

Morales’ work is written for practicing planners and policy makers as well as social scientists, and stands at the forefront of current inquiry in its engagement with demographically diverse communities and with various economic and political institutions. His work has been published in the top journals of five disciplinary associations and discussed in numerous national and international media outlets.

Professor Morales has articulated his theoretical and research interests in three edited or co-edited books and more than 30 articles and book chapters.

Professor Morales received his graduate degrees from Northwestern University (PhD, 1993), the University of Chicago (AM 1989), and the University of Texas at Dallas (MS 1987). He was a Dissertation Fellow at the American Bar Foundation and a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. He has been recognized for his teaching generally and work with students of color particularly. The Health Resources and Services Administration, the USDA, the Ford Foundation, and the American Bar Foundation are among organizations that have supported his research.

Professor Morales is on the board of EDCO Ventures, a nonprofit that develops for-profit businesses in economically distressed areas. He also hosts, a webpage on street vendors and public markets.

At the University of Wisconsin Professor Morales is affiliated with Chican@/o Latin@/o Studies, Agroecology, Global Studies, and the Collaborative Center for Health Equity of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Alfonso Morales, Associate Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Wisconsin–Madison, presented on October 7th, 2011 at the Power Conference at University of Michigan's Tubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Listen to Alfonso Morales on Wisconsin Public Radio's "Here On Earth" (4.29.06)

Professor Morales was featured in the movie Cheat You Fair, which was about the Maxwell Street Market.

See Prof. Alfonso Morales in the segment "fishing for food" on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams click here to see the clip.

Professor Morales initiated the Kaufman Lab for the Study and Design of Food Systems and Marketplaces in 2014.


Morales, Alfonso and Mukherji Nina, 2010.  “Zoning for Urban Agriculture.” Zoning Practice. 26:3 1-8. View Publication

Morales, Alfonso, and Gregg Kettles. 2009.  “Zoning for Markets and Street Merchants.” Zoning Practice. 25:1-8. View Publication

Morales, Alfonso and Gregg Kettles, 2009.  “Healthy Food Outside:  Herein of Farmer’s Markets, Taco Trucks, and Sidewalk Fruit Vendors.” Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy. 26:1 20-48. View Publication

Morales, Alfonso. 2009. “Public Markets as Community Development Tools,” Journal of Planning Education and Research. 28: 4 426-440. View Publication

Morales, Alfonso.  2008.  “A Woman’s Place is on the Street: Purposes and Problems of Mexican American Women Entrepreneurs,” at the conference "An American Story: Mexican-American Entrepreneurship and Wealth Creation," Austin, TX, May. View Publication

Morales, Alfonso. 2006. Chicago’s Maxwell Street Market: Promise and Prospects.  Prepared for the Maxwell Street Foundation. 26 pages. View Publication

Balkin, Steve and Alfonso Morales. 2000. “Linking Street Vendors to the Internet,” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 20 (3/4) 99-122. View Publication

Morales, Alfonso. 2000. “Peddling Policy: Street Vending in Historical and Contemporary Context,” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 20 (3/4): 76-99. View Publication

Morales, Alfonso. 1998. “Income Tax Compliance and Alternative Views of Ethics and Human Nature,” Journal of Accounting, Ethics and Public Policy, 1 (3): 380-400. View Publication

Morales, Alfonso. 1997. “Uncertainty and the Organization of Street Vending Business,” The International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 17 (3/4): 191-212. View Publication

Morales, Alfonso, Steve Balkin and Joe Persky. 1995. "Contradictions and Irony in Policy Research on the Informal Economy: A Reply."  Economic Development Quarterly, 9 (4): 327-330. View Publication

Debates in this journal over above paper:

  • Rhonda Halperin, “The Use of Economic Anthropology in Economic Development,” 321-322. (response to paper above) View Publication

  • Wim Wiewel, “The Use of Economic Analysis in Public Policy,” 324-326. View Publication

  • Morales, Alfonso, Steve Balkin and Joe Persky. 1995. "Contradictions and Irony in Policy Research on the Informal Economy: A Reply."  Economic Development Quarterly, 9 (4): 327-330. View Publication