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Penn Press at AAA 2023

Urban Planning in a World of Informal Politics

Urban Planning in a World of Informal Politics

by Chandan Deuskar

15 bw/, 3 maps, 2 tables, 4 graphs

  • Hardcover
  • 9781512823066
  • Published: August 2022



In many rapidly urbanizing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, local politics undermines the effectiveness of urban planning. Politicians have incentives to ignore formal urban plans and sideline planners, and instead provide urban land and services through informal channels in order to cultivate political constituencies (a form of what political scientists refer to as “clientelism”). This results in inequitable and environmentally damaging patterns of urban growth in some of the largest and most rapidly urbanizing countries in the world. The technocratic planning solutions often advocated by governments and international development organizations are not enough. To overcome this problem, urban planners must understand and adapt to the complex politics of urban informality.

In this book, Chandan Deuskar explores how politicians in developing democracies provide urban land and services to the urban poor in exchange for their political support, demonstrates how this impacts urban growth, and suggests innovative and practical ways in which urban planners can try to be more effective in this challenging political context. He draws on literature from multiple disciplines (urban planning, political science, sociology, anthropology, and others), statistical analysis of global data on urbanization, and an in-depth case study of urban Ghana.

Urban planners and international development experts working in the Global South, as well as researchers, educators, and students of global urbanization will find Urban Planning in a World of Informal Politics informative and thought-provoking.