Chapter 5 – Cities and social progress


Coordinating Lead Authors:[1] Saskia Sassen and Edgar Pieterse


Lead Authors:[2] Gautam Bhan, Max Hirsh, Ana Falu, Hiroo Ichikawa, Luis Riffo, Pelin Tan, Doris Tarchopulos.


Word count: 41312




Today’s cities confront a range of particular challenges that were not faced (at least knowingly) by cities in past periods. We focus on several of these in order to understand how cities can be enabled to become more viable and just. The question of cities and social progress has a long history of thought and multiple debates. A first section examines some of this. The second section provides a few conceptual anchors adopted by the authors to conduct the analysis and explore potential recommendations. The third section focuses on the multiple ways in which the urban condition materializes in diverse parts of the world and under diverse constraints. The examinations range from continental Africa to specific instances –Turkey’s refugee crisis. This section concludes with a discussion of mega cities and the global geography of power of global cities. The fourth section provides a counter points to the general trends by exploring the fact that built environments are not neutral—they benefit some more than others. It examines the case of women in cities as one instance of a larger array of disadvantages that affect diverse groups. This analysis requires a broader treatment in section five which unpacks the barriers and challenges of urban space. The sixth section examines how technology can be made to work for people and systems in cities. The seventh section examines the connection between social justice and cities through the prism of an emerging discourse—the right to the city. The final section revisits some of this through the lens of recommendations to achieve more just cities, providing a guide for democratic discussion on how social progress in cities can be achieved over the short-, medium- and long-term.




1. Introduction.............................................................................................................. 4


2. Conceptual anchors................................................................................................ 6


2.1 Beyond density: What is a city?.................................................................................................... 6


2.2 Urbanity and social progress........................................................................................................ 8


2.3 (Re)designing the built environment and social progress..................................... 10


3. Differential Urbanization & Regional Trends................................................ 14


3.1 Global Trends....................................................................................................................................... 14


3.2 Settlement structures: Megacities.......................................................................................... 17


3.3 Settlement structures: Peri-Urban Edges and Persistent Ruralities............... 19


3.4 Within the Region: Dis-aggregating African Urbanization..................................... 20


3.5 Refugees and Urbanization: The case of Turkey............................................................ 22


3.6 Today’s geography of power: Global cities across the world............................... 26


4. The right to the city, for whom?........................................................................ 29


4.1 Omitted subjects................................................................................................................................. 30


4.1.1 Women in the city: Gendering Urban Space and Time................................................... 31


4.1.4 Increasing violence in cities....................................................................................................... 38


5. Barriers and challenges to urban space.......................................................... 40


5.1 Unequal production of urban space....................................................................................... 42


5.2 The uncertain world of work..................................................................................................... 45


5.3 People on the move and unequal cities............................................................................... 47


6. Technology and the city...................................................................................... 49


6.1 When technology makes major interventions in urban space............................. 53


6.2 Digital ecologies of meaning...................................................................................................... 57


6.3 Deploying technical capabilities in the city..................................................................... 58


6.4 The planned and the unplanned city: How can the formal and informal work together?       60


7. Just urban societies and the right to the city................................................. 63


7.1 Notions of Urban Justice................................................................................................................ 63


7.2 Urban Justice via the Right to the City.................................................................................. 66


7.3 Who is the Citizen? Membership and its Instabilities................................................ 67


7.4 Modest Interventions Also Matter: Initiatives Supporting Women................. 71


7.4.1 Foreign domestic worker rights, Hong Kong...................................................................... 71


7.4.2 Female Youth Employment Initiative, Afghanistan........................................................ 72


7.4.3 Childcare for factory workers, Bangladesh......................................................................... 73


7.4.4 Juntos program: conditional cash transfers targeting women in Peru................... 74


7.4.5 Mother Centers International Network for Empowerment........................................ 75


7.4.6 Resistance struggles around urban renewal........................................................................ 76


7.4.7 Public Space and Urban Justice Movements....................................................................... 77


8. Recommendations................................................................................................ 79


8.1 The Right to City rests on Social and Environmental Justice................................ 81


8.2 Spatial Justice....................................................................................................................................... 82


8.3 Well-being and dignity................................................................................................................... 82


8.4 Democratic control of lifeworlds............................................................................................ 83


8.5 Economic Inclusion and Infrastructural Resilience.................................................... 84


8.6 Spatial Form.......................................................................................................................................... 87


8.7 New Urban Knowledge Systems and Innovation........................................................... 89


8.8 Institutionalisation of Radical democracy........................................................................ 90


References................................................................................................................... 94


1. Introduction


The urbanizing of people and of societies has become one of the major trends of the last few decades.  This urbanizing has long generated a diversity of formats. But the available evidence suggests that today this variability has become even greater.  Besides the familiar formats we have known across time and place, the last few decades have seen the proliferation of novel formats -- private cities, gated communities, office parks that pretend to be cities and are experienced by many as such, and more. This proliferation of diverse types of cities ranges from cities occupying a territory so vast it is barely governed to small and fully managed towns.


This chapter focuses on the different dynamics shaping urbanization across the world in order to understand how cities can become more just. In the contemporary era justice denotes, environmental sustainability, well-being—access to basic services, cultural autonomy and gainful employment. Given the massive deficits that characterize most countries, especially in the global South, achieving justice demands a radical shift in the forms and patterns of economic development. Cities can and must play a central role in this urgent socio-technical process. That said, it is impossible to cover the extraordinary variability of the urban condition. But one vector all cities share is the making and uses of urban space. Significant injustice but also positive potential becomes visible in urban space. The question then is how can we maximize urban space as a positive in the lives of the billions of marginalized citizens, the discriminated, and the persecuted.


A second vector that can cut across this enormous diversity is the specificity of each urban epoch. In today’s world, cities confront a range of particular challenges not faced (at least knowingly) by cities in past periods. Climate change is shorthand for a mix of negative conditions that today’s cities will face sooner or later –and cities in the past, mostly, did not. The expulsion of millions each year, mostly from rural areas due to the development of mines and plantations, is an old history, but it has reached extreme levels today. The city becomes one of the few places where the masses of the displaced can find a patch to put their bodies down. The rise of asymmetric war has meant the urbanizing of war; today, when a conventional army goes to war the enemy is mostly an irregular combatant who benefits from urbanizing war. One key tactic is attacks in cities that are not part of the “theater of war,” as we saw in a long list of cities over the last decade, from Bali and Casablanca to New York and Paris.


A third challenge is the evident difficulty of generating and focusing attention and material resources on the urgent need of redistribution to combat exclusionary urbanism. Today’s major actors and dynamics in cities worldwide too often are generating inequalities of all sorts and escalating concentrations of power and advantage. Highly valued Western frameworks –democracy, rights, social justice, and more—are not as useful, even in the west, as too many well-meaning commentators claim. While inequality has always been a feature of cities, today we are seeing the ascendance of economies that generate distributions far more extreme than in the recent past: massive benefits to some and shrinking options to growing majorities.


In today’s world, then, the city is becoming one of the spaces that make visible the extreme trends that mark our epoch. Smaller towns and urban settlements may still be somewhat protected from this increasing mal-distribution of resources and benefits, but it is not clear how long this can last.


Here we examine major challenges facing cities and what conditions can enable cities to be more just. The just city is not simply a perfect city. This is unachievable given the diversity of elements that constitute a city. But it is a city that enables all its residents, and that is marked by a serious engagement with social justice for all.


The text is organized as follows. After the Introduction, the second section provides a few conceptual anchors deployed to conduct the analysis and explore potential recommendations. The third section focuses on the multiple ways in which the urban condition materializes in diverse parts of the world and under diverse constraints. The examinations range from continental Africa to specific instances –Turkey’s refugee crisis. This section concludes with a discussion of mega cities and the global geography of power of global cities. The fourth section provides a counter points to the general trends by exploring the fact that built environments are not neutral—they benefit some more than others. It examines the case of women in cities as one instance of a larger array of disadvantages that affect diverse groups. This analysis requires a broader treatment in section five which unpacks the barriers and challenges of urban space. The sixth section examines how technology can be made to work for people and systems in cities. The seventh section examines the connection between social justice and cities through the prism of an emerging discourse—the right to the city. The final section revisits some of this through the lens of recommendations to achieve more just cities, providing a guide for democratic discussion on how social progress in cities can be achieved over the short-, medium- and long-term. But first a brief set of specifications as to what, actually is a city at a time when vast private office parks and gated communities, with their own guards, are proliferating across the world. 


2. Conceptual anchors


Cities and urban life is by definition profoundly heterogeneous and complex because they represent a unique blend of landscape infused morphologies, people, cultures, histories, conflicts, socio-technical interfaces and the constant flows of resources, data and ideas, it complicates the task of exploring the link between cities and social progress. In order to make the undertaking more manageable, and establish a line of thought to run through this chapter it is essential to put a few conceptual anchors in the ground.


2.1 Beyond density: What is a city?


Cities are complex systems.  But they are incomplete systems. In this mix lies the possibility of making–making the urban, the political, the civic, a history, an economy.  It is also because of these features that we can work at making cities, developing cities in particular directions that make them more socially just. And this possibility of making holds even for those who do not have power: poor immigrants, refugees and slum dwellers can transform a degraded part of the city into a thriving neighborhood with its own sub-economy. This form of dynamic agency cannot happen in an office park, even if they work there.


These constitutive features – incompleteness, complexity, and the possibility of making – take on urbanized formats that can vary enormously across time and place; it points to a unique and ever present potentiality. Such formats often originate in deep histories of place. This also explains why every city is distinct, even when that distinctiveness is more in the cultures and memories of locals than in the design of its buildings or the predictable form that shape movement and interactions. The urban may not be alone in having these characteristics, but these characteristics are a necessary part of the DNA of the urban. It also holds the key to advancing social progress.


A second key feature of cities is that this mix of complexity and incompleteness has allowed cities to outlive more formal and closed systems such as republics, kingdoms, banks and corporations. Cities are simply more adaptive. Consider any major city with a long life: its authority systems, its big old firms, its power regimes, are all likely to be gone. But the city itself and its neighborhoods are there, even after centuries.


A third feature of cities is that across time and place cities – not a fortress or palace dressed as a city – have enabled a broad range of contradictory outcomes. They are a place where the oppressor and the oppressed have multiple encounters, where the claims of the poor can, at some point, get a hearing, or at least become visible. We can think of it as the capacity of a city to make us all into urban subjects –moments when the multiple differences of religion, class, culture, ethnicity, and more, are suspended. This potential and occasional lived reality constitutes the speech of the city. To these older familiar intersections we must now add the range of challenges generated by environmental destruction. Rising waters, desertification, pollution, are all likely to be felt by both the rich and the poor (think air pollution in Beijing), even if the poor are going to suffer far more. The city embodies and enables forms of entanglement that is inconceivable in non-urban space.


A fourth feature is that in today’s world the frontier is increasingly inside cities. Mostly it is no longer at the edges of empire as it was over the last few centuries.  We can think of the frontier as a space where actors from different worlds have an encounter for which there is no established rules of engagement. In the historic frontier of the west, this encounter was marked by imperial powers usually slaughtering the indigenous people. Today, the fact that the frontier is in the city gives the weaker party some power –the power to make claims, to demonstrate, in short the power of voice, or at least subversion.


These, and several other marking conditions we examine in this report, are critical to understand the specific capacities of cities as sites for dynamic change and progress.  Further, conceiving of cities in these terms means that much of today's dense built-up terrain is not necessarily a city in the constitutive senses outlined. It might be a gated community, an expanded or mini strip mall, or a private office complex with guards controlling access. It is built density, but it lacks ‘cityness’ and its capabilities. Cityness derives from the cultural interactions generated by intense diversities, which thrives on incompleteness, complexity and potentiality.


2.2 Urbanity and social progress


A dominant narrative of urbanization and development held that national growth rises as urbanization does, and, indeed, is driven by it.[4] Driving these co-relations were a series of assumed economic transformations: shifts from agriculture to manufacturing and services that agglomerated in urban regions leading to economies of scale and a rising share of national income that comes from urban areas and, finally, a recognizable pattern of modernization and developmental transition. Unsaid, yet very much part of this story, were the assumed social shifts of citizenship, subjectivity and personhood as urban selves were shaped to mirror the cities they inhabited. Modernity and modernization were also both economic and socio-spatial projects.


Even if we take, for a moment, this narrative at its word,[5] it is important to remember that growth is not development. “Social progress” – our shared ground of investigation in this report – is perhaps precisely the bridge that tries to hold the two together, determining the form of their relation. It is precisely the current configurations of this relation within the urban that is the object of investigation in this chapter.


 This is a difficult task. Urbanization is a spatial, social and economic transition with deeply located and distinct histories and manifestations in different regions. Within each of these regional and historical traditions, layers and geographies of inequalities and exclusions lie alongside significant improvements in both core human development and prosperity over the past century. Older inequalities of social frictions and the denial of basic needs have remained persistent and newer ones such as the ecological limits of urban life and form itself have arisen. Beyond the macro-empirical evidence of rising GDP then, what promises can and should urbanization hold in the 21st century for development?


Our reading is made all the more complex because urbanization’s patterns and histories neither were nor are autonomous. They are, in fact, constitutive of each other. This is true of the colonial systems of the 18th or 20th century where urbanization’s driving of growth and development in one region came at the expense of the same relation in another. It is equally true of the newest global system of late capitalism where cities function as economic networks that, still, are not “flat” but structurally dependent on the creation of their own outsides and peripheries. This is most starkly illustrated by the fact that 600 urban economies account for 60% of global GDP (UN-Habitat 2016). How then do we assess urbanization and social progress, when trade-off’s lie between the progress of one or the other?


Social progress must be structured to mediate the relation between growth and development. In different regions of the world, at and for different times, this relation has bent towards equity and inclusion, while at others, it has seen urbanization that is exclusionary, divisive and differentiated. Our task is to document the diversity of these relations and their geographies, and seek to find ways of moving towards the former while knowing that any gains will constantly have to be protected, sustained and, perhaps, re-invented.


2.3 (Re)designing the built environment and social progress


Now more than ever, the city is all we have. (Koolhaas 1995)


Historically, the physical form of the city has reflected the society it hosts, its structure and functioning. Its geometry expresses and explains the city’s aesthetic, technical, tactical, political, religious, economic, cultural and, of course, social values. Since ancient times the city has been a designed object. Theseus’ synoecism, which led to the Greek polis, conceived as an ideal living space that, according to Aristotle, would meet all the essential human needs, as expressed in the acropolis, the agora, the theatre, the network of streets, the houses, the fields for crops and grazing, and the walls. From this idea, Hippodamus of Miletus creates the grid to found cities, in keeping with the development of the concept of polis and in accordance with the idea of ​​symmetry, logic, functionality, and rationality reflecting the ideal society.


Renaissance aesthetics sought to change the structure of the medieval village and project new cities that focused on human beings, to ensure the proper setting, or “stage”, for a new, classical architecture. Later, Thomas More’s utopia envisaged a society in an ideal location, based on a new political, economic and cultural organization that would allow for the inhabitants’ wellbeing in equal conditions. In a sense, philosophical and theological imaginations always had distinct physical expression.


            The rapid growth of cities during the industrial revolution gave rise to movements like social hygiene in the in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was preoccupied with the ways in which deficiencies in the physical and social environment caused epidemic, endemic, and occupational illnesses. Therefore, the solution to health problems and new technologies demanded radical spatial and social reforms. This led to the creation of modern urbanism, an epistemic field linked to science and public service and aimed at achieving the common good through a new urban structure predicated on changing the form and operations of the city.


            Many models of the ideal twentieth-century city have been produced since then, seeking to overcome health problems and social injustice, and rectify the imbalance of urban living conditions imposed by the industrial revolution. In the West these models include Baron Haussmann’s plan to transform preindustrial Paris (1852); Cerdá’s General Theory of Urbanization and Barcelona Extension (1859); Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City movement (1898), Wright’s Broadacre City (1935), and Mumford and Osborn’s New Towns (1946). Due to the colonial incursions in much of the rest of the world, racially-based adaptations of these ideologies informed the building and regulation of urban cores that served the colonial administrations.


Among the emblematic and influential twentieth-century models is the Athens Charter (1942), which summarizes the postulates of Le Corbusier and the Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne, CIAM (1928-1959). The principles of the charter sought a new city to ensure citizen justice and equality and a uniformity of composition and structure that would contribute to social homogenization. In theory, application of these guidelines would solve the problems of the industrial city through functional relationships grounded in a new idea of circulation and standardized serial housing construction. However, consistency between the principles that inspired the charter and the problems they were intended to solve was never achieved politically and these values were invariably molded to suit the political and economic interests of elites who sought to use regulation as an instrument to secure their interests and discipline potential dissent from the poor and working classes. Furthermore, urban planning and regulatory regimes were used to safeguard and promote real-estate driven accumulation which demanded a system of land speculation through zoning linked to the construction, automobile, and appliance industries. The democratic and inclusionary potential of planning was usurped to ensure a specific mode of accumulation.


Among the side effects of functionalist urbanism, which led to the instrumentalized modern city,[6] was the negation of the benefits of a dense, compact city; the subordination of the street and public life to buildings; repudiation of the public in favor of the private; large-scale gated high-rise housing complexes; transformation of the city dictated by highways; a loss of regional scale, and the proliferation of suburbs, among others. Due to the earlier onset of colonial independence in Latin America, very similar processes can be observed in those urban systems. However, Africa and Asia remained marked by truncated and bifurcated colonial regulatory regimes but absorbed similar dynamics in the post-colonial era after the Second World War.


Inevitably, the contemporary city is a heterogeneous mix of parts of the traditional city, its historical center, modern bits, contemporary global corporate headquarters, disconnected parts, abandoned areas, marginalized peripheries, settlements devoid of urbanity, urbanized rural sections, urban fractions scattered throughout the countryside, autonomous or dependent suburbs, etc. This contributes to the constitutive heterogeneity and incompleteness, but it also explains why the built environment generates inequality, marginalization, segregation, immobility and unsustainability. The scale of these negative features raises the question whether urban planning can possibly solve urban problems so as to create cities that benefit all and remain within environmental guardrails (WBGU 2016).


            We must recognize the duality of the city. On the one hand, it has contributed to the evolution of society as a whole, while simultaneously remaining a major obstacle to social equity. A quick scan of urban development challenges in both developed and developing contexts reveal that all cities have many old or inherited problems to overcome, and are now confronted by a host of new and inter-related challenges such as rising inequality, inequity, climate change and inclusive social progress (Sassen 2012a, Sassen 2013, Sassen 2012b).  


In response to these dynamics, scholars, professional urbanists, activists, and practitioners experimenting with alternatives are expending enormous effort to understand and address these challenges. In the wake the global policy and research discussions that informed the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the Paris Agreement of 2015, the centrality of cities have come to the fore. Also, urban actors from various sectors and interest groups are landing on a shared focus on urban sustainability[7] as the core imperative to address the legacies of extractive and functionalist urbanism. In shorthand, this translates into a research and policy focus on the compact city that intimates the dense, mixed, intensive, open, and diverse city, has a positive impact on society and sustainability.[8] This speaks to urban form and functioning. Another key aspect is the metabolic efficiency of cities in terms of resource and materials consumption. Sustainable urbanism draws attention to the performance of the built environment in terms of urban form and metabolic dynamics. Due to the unique histories and investment trajectories of cities in different parts of the world, the specific implications of sustainable urbanism will vary enormously from country to country. This demands a closer look at differential patterns of urbanization in different world regions and at different scales.


3. Differential urbanization & regional trends


How do we understand the patterns and trends of urbanization globally? A comprehensive review is impossible and therefore we adopt a different method – a mutli-scalar reading. First, we open with macro-data at the global level that speaks of urbanization across regions. Then, we choose one example – Africa – to show that the “region” itself as a scale of analysis hides tremendous variation. We shift scales again to the nation, and use the example of Turkey to highlight patterns of urbanization that are often omitted in macro-understandings by looking at the refugee as an urban resident. We then look at a particular city – Medellin in Columbia – to understand a specific story of urbanization at the city scale. In conclusion, we return and mix scales, comparing cities at a global scale.


Each of these modes allows us insights into urbanization trends and patterns while reminding us of all that data does not say in addition to what it offers. Our intention here is to suggest that diversity of patterns and forms that underlie global urbanisation with illustrative examples to aid readers to remember that such disaggregation will be necessary in their own contexts.


3.1 Global Trends


Urbanisation has taken different spatial and historic trajectories in different parts of the world. The regions that we broadly define as the global North went from predominantly rural to predominantly urban between 1750 – 1950 in lockstep with modernization and industrialization (Satterthwaite 2007). Latin America saw its urban expansion in the first half of the 20th century, with many large countries being between 60-80% urban by the 1970s. Indeed, South America is possibly the most urbanized region in the planet – it is the Caribbean’s relatively lower urbanization that lowers the average in the figures below. An equivalent demographic and territorial transition is unfolding in sub-Saharan Africa between 1950-2035 (UN-DESA 2015) and in Asia (1960-2050).


Figure 5.1: Urban populations and trends by Region



Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Highlights (ST/ESA/SER.A/352).


Clear distinctions between status and trends are immediately visible here. While urbanization has consolidated into the dominant settlement form in LAC, North America, Europe and Oceania, the fastest growth in the 20th century has been in East Asia (led by China and India). The fastest growth in the 21st will be led by Africa (especially Sub-Saharan Africa) as well as India and China. Despite all the imaginations of its teeming megacities, South Asia remains one of the lesser urbanized regions in the world implying that its urbanization is yet to come. Figure 2 gives a snapshot of the comparative rates of change, pitting sub-Saharan African growth rates against those in the LAC region to show how starkly different the dynamics will be in the 21st century.


Figure 5.2: Demographic trends for select regions and South Africa, 1950-2050



Source: Adapted from UN-DESA 201


How do we understand the character of this urbanization and its relation to social progress? The answer is complex. Certainly, in Africa, India and – to some extent – China, urbanization is rising rapidly at low, low-middle or, at best, middle income status. Even leaving aside the colonial forms and legacies of urban development for a moment, this implies critical challenges for the assumed relationships between urbanization and development. Urban expansion is not necessarily being led by a strong, embedded, and employment-absorbent economic structure in low and low-middle income countries. Add to this the constraints of persistent poverty and thus segmented consumption and labour markets as well as low tax and revenue bases, deficient and inadequately expanding infrastructure as well as uncertain state capacity to direct resources and investments. Urbanization – at this pace, in this fore-shortened period – becomes an arena of significant struggle for social progress. Many of the urban challenges in Africa and South Asia – slums, widespread economic informality, unequal rights to the city, weak fiscal structures and diminished local governments – are evidence of this struggle.


Latin American urbanization points differently to the ability of cities to expand opportunity and human development through strong local government after a period of economic expansion. Yet a new set of challenges – of scale, altered consumption, and persistent inequality – remain. In Europe and North America, after decades of growth, the sustainability of urban economic development has come into question as intra-city inequalities often marked on identity-based exclusions have become political contestations, demographic shifts with falling birth rates and changing immigration patterns are altering the composition of cities, and a new global financial system suggests the shifting of global economic production to other sites.


3.2 Settlement structures: Megacities


Distinct from the trends and rates of urbanization, questions of the form of this urbanization are also important. Figure 3 shows one end of the settlement structures of world urbanization: the mega-city. We argued above that rapid urbanization in low and low-middle income countries represents tremendous risks as well as opportunities for the relation between growth and development. This is particularly true in the way this urbanization spatializes. One such element of spatial patterns is the mega-city.


Continuous urban agglomerations of 10million residents or more, with settlement that extends beyond any administrative boundaries in the city-region, mega-cities can, on the one hand, exemplify the gains of agglomeration and economies of scale, being resilient against economic fluctuations because of strong and diverse local economic circuits and create a reliant fiscal base for redistribution. On the other, if they grow with a dominantly income-poor population, they represent enormous challenges in governance, infrastructure, management and equity. In both cases, they ask unanswered questions about food, ecological footprints and sustainable growth. Empirically, we are dealing with the latter case. According to the World Urbanization Prospects (2014) by United Nation’s Population Division, there are 28 “megacities” in the world today with each hosting more than 10 million inhabitants. They are home to 453 million people or about 12% of the world’s urban population. A large number of the world’s megacities already are – and in 2050 will be in greater number and degree – in the global south. This is an important facet of urbanization trends to consider. Furthermore, the spatial concentration of the global economy illustrates the disproportionate importance of the megacity in both economic and political terms. (See Box)


Figure 5.3: Share and Location of Megacities, 2015



Source: UN-DESA


Box 5.1: Envisioning the futures of Mega-City: The Case of Tokyo

Today, Tokyo’s metropolitan area is the largest city in the world with more than 35 million people, with an economy almost equivalent to the size of Brazil. Tokyo, the oldest megacity after New York, is expected to remain the largest of all the megacities in 2030. It faces a plethora of challenges that many other emerging megacities are experiencing or have yet to experience

Tokyo thus can serve us well as natural experiment: it is a megacity, its infrastructure and people are aging fast, but unlike many other megacities, it has resources and a long, well-established central planning tradition. The rapidly aging and declining population is pressuring the city to move away from the conventional growth model of the post-WWII decades and to seek a new model of shrinkage or contraction. By carefully examining the future of this megacity, we could be able to imagine the future of megacities, that is, the future of cities that will be home for a good share of the urban population in the world.

Among the questions we must ask are (1) How can we envision the future of a city? (2) What are the key factors in shaping the future of the city? (3) What would be the key strategies ensure the survival of the city and people in the future? In 2011, Hiroo Ishikawa led a research project on the future of Tokyo as vice-chairman of its steering committee. The research, entitled “Tokyo Future Scenario 2035,” aimed to formulate possible urban strategies for the city in the face of unprecedented demographic, economic and political challenges. The research employed a technique called “scenario planning,” in which multiple future scenarios for the next 25 years were set up to describe corresponding strategies.

The approach to the city’s future was by setting up seven interrelated sectors of human activity: International Relations / Diplomacy, Economy, Environment, Technology, Urban Space, Life/ Society/ Culture, and Administration. With the collaboration of a broad range of experts in these sectors and the collection of wide-ranging data to analyze the current situations of the city, three key factors were identified to set up possible scenarios of the future.

Although all of major sectors are highly relevant to the prediction of the future trajectory of a city, three of them, Environment, Technology, and Urban Space, seem to have a direct influence on the shape of the future city. In what follows we use the case of Tokyo to explore its possible futures through these three dimensions.

(a) Environment: Tokyo will face major challenges when to comes to the environment. There are several possible future scenarios that await Tokyo. None of these concerns the energy consumption structure in Tokyo and the city’s efforts to reduce the energy consumption and carbon emission. Despite the low per-capita energy consumption (half the national average), Tokyo’s energy consumption has gradually been increasing. The city now seeks to develop low carbon emission buildings for homes and offices and replace the conventional vehicles with energy-efficient cars. The multiple scenarios suggested that the willingness to invest in the energy saving cost is one of the key factors that affect the city’s future trajectory. There are, clearly, other major issues: Non-fossil energy, reduction and optimization of final disposal amount, restoration of ecological system, civil activism, and government leadership.

(b) Technology: The technological innovations in the next few decades allow us to imagine some aspects of the future of city life in Tokyo. Of special interest is the way the locally specific demands in Tokyo arising from a shrinking population, disaster prevention, and elderly healthcare will lead to a particular technological development -assisted lifestyle. This subject is further developed in the section on Technology and the City.

(c) Urban Space: A particular issue that Tokyo will face in the near future is the simultaneous “aging” of the population and of its infrastructure. According to the estimates of the Japanese Government, the proportion of maintenance costs to the overall social infrastructure investment of the country will increase from 20% in 2002 to 32-46% in 2025. A large part of Tokyo’s urban infrastructure was built in the era of rapid economic expansion (1950s-80s) and its future maintenance and renovation cost will double the current cost. With a rapidly declining population, low economic development, and a high risk of natural disasters, Tokyo will need to find the possible public-private initiatives to maintain and renovate the old infrastructure.

Other issues to be considered are the reduction of natural disaster risks, the making of attractive space, efficient mobility, universal design, sustainable infrastructure, sustainable buildings, counter measures against heat-island phenomena.


3.3 Settlement structures: Peri-Urban Edges and Persistent Ruralities


Yet outside the megacity, the other end of the settlement structure reminds us that urbanization is also growing through vast and changing peri-urban interfaces and edges. Urbanization in Africa is most rapid and prevalent in what the OECD calls the urban-rural interface zones where one can observe a continuum of rural areas, villages, towns and cities of fewer than 500 000 inhabitants. This phenomenon is particularly evident in the agrarian and late urbanizer countries. Drawing on UN DESA data, the OECD calculates that 83% of Africa’s population lives in such a rural-urban interface.


Figure 5.4: Urbanisation by size of settlement, 1970-2030



Source: UN-DESA [United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division] (2015) World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision (ST/ESA/SER.A/366). New York: United Nations.


The distribution of the urban population in predominantly smaller urban settlements is a reminder that academic and policy literature on cities are highly skewed towards the larger cities – megacities, large cities and capital cities even when the predominant urban experience has a very different scale and quality. The size of a city also holds important implications for the potential to transform urban life towards more sustainable patterns, as explored towards the end of the chapter.


3.4 Within the Region: Dis-aggregating African Urbanization


Regional data on African obscures enormous variation across the African Continent. Conventionally these differences are best captured by the acute intra-regional differences. For example both North and Southern Africa is well past the 50 per cent urbanization mark, whilst East Africa has hardly entered the 20 per cent arena (UN-DESA, 2015). West Africa is a veritable mixed bag. Some prominent countries like Nigeria (largest African country by population) are past the 50 per cent tipping point whilst Ghana reflects more the African average of 39 per cent.


Recent insights from the Africa Economic Outlook 2016 (OECD/AfDB/UNDP 2016) offer a novel typology to categorize African countries in terms of urbanization dynamics, fertility transitions and level of economic development as expressed in the changing role of agriculture and the importance of natural resource extraction in the economy.  This typology better reveals the diversity of conditions and trends across Africa.


Table 5.1: African countries categorized by urbanization, fertility transition and economic transformation





Their urbanization levels of diversifiers range between 40% and 65%. They are also close to completing their fertility transition with total fertility ratios of three or fewer children per woman. These countries are Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia. This group has Africa’s highest level of income (above USD 10 000 gross national income [GNI] per capita in 2013 with the exception of Morocco) and of human development (with a Human Development Index [HDI] value above 0.60).

Early urbanizes

Nine countries fall into this category distinguished by progress in their urbanization and fertility transition without having been able to diversify their economic base. Mostly found in West Africa, they include Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal. These countries are about 35-50% urbanized and have total fertility ratios of about five children per woman. They are typically low- to lower-middle income countries (USD 1 000-4 000 GNI per capita in 2013), with low-to-medium levels of human development (HDI values between 0.40 and 0.57).

Late urbanizers

The eleven countries that fall into this category are pre-dominantly rural yet have begun their urbanization and fertility transition and structural transformation more recently. In contrast to the early urbanizers, they are located in East Africa and include Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. Less than a third of their population typically lives in urban areas. Their total fertility rates are four to six children per woman. Income levels are low (USD 1 000-2 200 GNI per capita in 2013), and levels of human development are low-to-medium (HDI values between 0.38 and 0.54). Interestingly, two relatively authoritarian countries, Ethiopia and Rwanda has demonstrated an impressive capacity to diversify their economic base over the past decade, albeit off a low basis.


This cohort is pre-dominantly rural countries that are still at a very early stage of their urbanization and fertility transition. Many of the eleven agrarian countries are landlocked, such as Niger, Chad and Malawi. Typically less than a third of the population resides in urban areas, and women have on average at least six children. These countries’ income levels did not exceed USD 1 600 GNI per capita in 2013, and they have low levels of human development (HDI values between 0.48 and 0.34). Their economies are predominantly agriculture-based: agriculture makes up 25-41% of their GDP and manufacturing 4-12%.

Natural resource-based countries

This group have urbanized with windfalls from natural resources, which have attracted labor out of agriculture. Compared with other countries at similar income levels, these 13 countries show a higher degree of urbanization (40-78%), generally higher fertility rates and a high degree of urban primacy with the capital usually disproportionally bigger than other cities. The share of GDP in agriculture is low at 3-21%. These countries exhibit huge variations in income levels (USD 500-20 000 per capita), in the types of natural resources they produce (e.g. hydrocarbons, minerals and metals) and in their geography (e.g. Libya is predominantly arid while Nigeria is mostly rain-fed). Due to the over-reliance on natural resources they are extremely vulnerable to international market swings, which impact on the investment capacity of the state.


Apart from the five countries that fall into the diversifiers category, the vast majority of African countries reflect very low levels of wealth as reflected in GDP per capita data revealing the relative level of economic development, which in turn speaks to the enormous needs these societies face. Furthermore, the fertility rates provide an insight into the growth of demand for basic services (education, health care, social security) and infrastructure systems (energy, mobility, water, sanitation, waste, ICT, and so forth). Low levels of wealth, and the accompanying relatively small tax bases, eroded further by predominantly informal economies, reduces the pool of resources that African governments can draw on to meet expanding demand.


Such disaggregation emphasizes the need to understand the empirics of urbanization at different scales, particularly to get the grain required to understand social progress. It also suggests that the metrics we consider must themselves capture all the different facets of at least the political economy of an urban transition – such as demonstrated by the table – rather than simply look at spatial, population and built environment thresholds to measure the “urban” in macro and public statistics.


3.5 Refugees and Urbanization: The case of Turkey


Shifting scales to the city allows us to not just see further specificity in urbanization but to contextualize its historical modes and processes. The 20th century for urbanization in Turkey was basically a process of industrialization, especially after the turn from empire to nation-state structure. Urban migration was related directly to this industrialization process where many Anatolian people went to Istanbul and Ankara to work in factories and settled in the urban peripheries. “Gecekondu – a term often affiliated with the “slum” but not reducible to it–become an urban phenomena as self-organized dwellings that migrant workers built themselves. Like in many cities across the global south, these were often built in tension with official norms of law and planning.  Largely illegally built on state land from 1950s, these neighborhoods got legal infrastructure and property rights in the 1980s through populist political agendas. As they did, they changed forms and became not just self-organised housing but means of speculation in land and housing markets.


These neighborhoods weaved into the urban pattern of the cities. In Istanbul, Turkey’s economic symbol, as the city shifted from a “self-service” city to neoliberal urbanization, new economic centres emerged that relied on gecekondus for labour. For example, Maslak district (that led the city expansion to north west of Istanbul), which is often compared to Manhattan was consisted of new built skyscrapers that the “gecekondu” neighborhoods around them become labor suppliers for this new urban economy. Many citizens in the neighborhoods were working in the security, cleaning, service sectors, which were affiliated with the need of the urban centers. So, the term “Globalization” for Istanbul was mostly privatization, financial speculation and raising local municipal power. From 2001, we can say that “Neoliberalization” of Istanbul and as well most cities/towns in Turkey attached to urbanization process that cities become the space of capital accumulation that re-shaped and effected the urban policy as well the production of space (public space, infrastructure, housing).


Another form that marks this shift in urbanization patterns is the “gated community.” Gated Communities expanded at the outskirt of the city as upper class new housings in the end of 1990s that sought to withdraw from urban centers. The first waves  were led by middle and upper middle class from secular as well from Islamist and conservative groups. The second wave from 2010, however, saw gated communities appear back in urban center with new architecture and design projects that includes public facilities as small urban section with public spaces, shops, cinema and other facilities of needs for inhabitants. The history of gated communities from the end of 1990s is an apt lens to show the relation of class structure and urban spaces in Turkey.


In the midst of this changing urbanization pattern at the city-scale, another form of urbanization more rarely captured is also occurring. The current refugee flow, especially as an outcome of the Syrian war is shaping the cities constantly. Future cities will be shaped with this flow with new economies, housing (both design and market), security policies in urban space and everyday life (is already shaping). Are the cities ready for this? What kind of liquid infrastructures are created? How will it shape infrastructure like housing, water source, public spaces? Urbanization led by refugees marks cities from Istanbul to Paris or Berlin. Camps near the cities and towns (such as in Paris or in South Eastern Anatolia) create new spatial relation in terms of transportation, economy and human relations. These influences will become important in the near urban future. For example, the cost of a rent of one tent in a camp in France creates its own micro-economy connected to larger towns in terms of human trafficking. At the other hand, the self-organized solidarity networks in Istanbul, Berlin or Athens becoming more strong in urban spaces that influences the urban knots of public spaces and usage of technology such as mobile phones. The rent and housing market influenced by middle class refugees or refugees who can effort renting spaces.


These new patterns of forced migration are built upon long histories of refugee urbanization. Existing refugee camps are important elements in urban life especially in Lebanon, Jordan or West Bank where they created another archetype in the definition of “city” and “urban”. Urbanized camps (or future urbanized camps) are their own form  of a city which in many ways can be superior. Zaatari camp (Jordan) is one of the examples of a camp that is somehow created its won active social and economical networks. According to Agier, “Camps-villes”: “…the camps gradually become the sites of an enduring organization of space, social life and system of power that exist nowhere else. These are paradoxical devices, hybrids that, for lack of an appropriate term, I shall call city-camps (camps-villes)”. Agier defines the refugee camp as a socio-spatial entity; the space of a heterogeneous everyday life and as a biopolitical space that embody networks of practices of the actors and agencies.


Urbanized refugee camps are facing similar process as cities, for example types of gentrification. If a camp remains in time in the center of the city as it is attached in the past; this city can face to a gentrification and housing value speculation. The property issue is often a problem as most houses in the refugee camps don’t have a legal ownership. But renting and buying a house exists although there is no legal base. They remind us, again, of the need to capture and hold multiple forms of differentiated urbanization.


Figure 5.5: Visualization of refugees in Turkey





3.6 Today’s geography of power: Global cities across the world


Our final scale of analysis looks at cities as basic units but compares them on a global scale. The Global Power City Index is one way to do this. It was formulated in an effort to better organize and understand the complex system of attraction that exists for certain cities in a global economic system that makes them compete with each other as nodes. By measuring and tracking a comprehensive list of specific indicators, the GPCI provides valuable data that can be utilized by policy makers, researchers, businesses, or even potential residents. Defining ‘attractiveness’ can be difficult, however, as what constitutes an attractive destination is dependent on a multitude of perspectives from different actors. It is for this reason that in addition to measuring functions for economy, research and development, cultural interaction, accessibility, livability, and environment, the GPCI also includes an ‘actor-specific ranking’, which evaluates cities based on the interests of specific individuals.


The GPCI was first introduced by the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies in 2008, and its rankings have been updated yearly since. The index measures and evaluates the comprehensive power of 40 of the world’s leading cities according to six primary functions—economy, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment, and accessibility – across 70 unique indicators.[9] The most recent ranking is summarized in Figure 6.


Figure 5.6: GPCI Ranking 2015



The Introduction section made a case for cities as constitutively complex, incomplete and filled with potentiality. This serves as a reminder that cities need to be understood historically, spatially, and the product of culturally driven practices to forge a built environment in unique geo-ecological settings. In this section those starting points were further illustrated with a multi-scalar description of different dimensions of urbanization. Across these immense diversities, it is nonetheless possible to observe a number of important convergences and consistencies. In the next section we explore the “performance” of cities in terms of normative horizons rooted in human rights, social justice and environmental sustainability.


4. The right to the city, for whom?


Forty-five years after the publication of the first edition of Henri Lefebvre’s influential work on The Right to the City, (Le droit à la ville, 1968), the core concerns of his work still offer a critical lens to understand the city. In recent decades, globalization and neoliberal policies have generated what are often experienced as non-stop changes in more and more cities, altering approaches to urban life and raising questions about how to plan and manage these cities (Falú, 2009a). Lefebvre helps us think through what these changes mean for everyday life in the city, allowing one to grapple with the often high costs of urban changes that stem from unbridled globalization.


According to Lefebvre, the city and urban space more generally are best understood as territory and as social relations. All that is produced in our cities results from our collective making of the social though that process is never autonomous from the political economy that envelops the urban. This way of conceiving the urban provides a political perspective that emphasizes the satisfying of citizen’s needs. It rescues us, humans, from being erased from the cities we build and inhabit. Thus, socially produced urban space goes beyond the materiality of the city to include its social dimensions: the lives we are able to live, meeting with others, decision making, the political, the confrontations in the local arena, the culture, the actions, “what happens” in the materialized city (Lefebvre, 1968 [1978]: 105-110). In this section, we look at who has the right to the city? As David Harvey has asked: What rights are we talking about? And about whose city? Or perhaps stated in a different manner: Who defines and builds the city? Who benefits from its public goods and different services (Falú, 2013)? 


            This is theme that goes to the core of any notion of equity and social progress. In this section, we foreground one illustrative identity – gender – in order to indicate the kinds of exclusions and patterns of discrimination that define everyday life for many urban citizens and illuminate the relation between cities and social progress. There are many conceptual ways scholars have used to understand these exclusions: discrimination, exclusion, segregation, or fragmentation, among many. There are multiple other axes one could have taken: sexuality, religion, ability, age, race, ethnicity, language, or nationality. Since it is impossible to cover each in limited space, our intention here is to mark the importance of reading identity-based exclusions in understanding cities and suggest a mode of inquiry and analyses that makes these evident so we can begin to challenge them.


In segregated, exclusionary cities, the quality of the urban is in tension with the citizens’ rights; not all the citizens are equal, or have the same opportunities, or live the city or perceive it in the same form.  It is not the same to be poor or rich, a man or a women, a child or and adult, an elderly poor or rich, an indigenous or afro descendent, or an LGBTI person. Not all the citizens have the same material resources, neither the symbolic ones, to be able to appropriate the cities and the urban in the same way, or to transform them in accordance with their wishes or interests. Given these profound lines of differentiation and discrimination, the Right to the City can indeed feel like a chimera.


4.1 Omitted subjects


To conceive the “city” in terms of categories of social construction requires an engagement with the modalities under which it is fashioned and represented by the actors within it. This construction varies in different historical contexts and relations of power and dominant ideologies that have crossed in its development and conformation. To think of omitted subjects reminds us that, in each of these different contexts, we must be attentive to who is being omitted and what the consequences of this omission are. The identity marker of gender provides a useful illustrative perspective to assess urban space, time, as well as economic growth.


4.1.1 Women in the city: Gendering Urban Space and Time


Across numerous disciplines theory and research has been dedicated to understanding gender[10] dynamics. These efforts have brought to light the subordinate positions and conditions confronting women in cities, grounded in a powerful and ongoing gender-based division of labor. Women’s place is deemed to be in the private home environment, out of the public eye. In contrast, “…men [are] linked to productive work—income generators—and women [are] seen as responsible only and exclusively with regard to domestic and reproductive tasks: caring for the children and running the household” (Falú, 1998).


While changes are happening, it is still the case that in many cities many women perceive the city differently from many men. Due to their still strong role in the home, women use cities in specific ways. If they combine work with family life, their journeys to work are often short. They use time in fragments: there is no full day of work and no full day of being away from children. Women are far more likely to be users of public spaces and their neighborhood streets (during daylight hours), mixing with children, people with disabilities, senior citizens. In many cities, during the day, the public spaces are more likely to be women’s spaces. And yet, those spaces are built according to what are assumed to be men’s uses and perspectives. Since its modern incarnation, urban design and planning operated on the basis of the universal or unmarked citizen, but in concrete everyday life there are no unmarked users, but rather profoundly genders roles and actors.


It is not just public spaces that are gendered but, equally, access to systems, services and infrastructures that determine everyday life in the city. Inequalities in access to basic services have deeply gendered impacts. For example, consider inadequate access to water for households in urban poor communities where the collection of water (particularly in Africa and South Asia) is primarily considered the work of women and girls. Figure 7 summarizes the gendered division of labor for water collection. In both urban and rural areas women and girls are primarily responsible for this task.


Figure 5.7: Distribution of households per person responsible for water collection, by region and urban/rural areas, 2005-7



Source: (The) World's Women 2010. Trends and Statistics. UNDESA, 2010


This pattern repeats across different kinds of urban services and infrastructure. Similar patterns manifest for housing, transport, or access to adequate sanitation. There is furthermore a solid body of research that documents the ways that women are at a disadvantage in the use of urban space—be it public parks, feeling safe, or access to transport. Thus, while there is good critical work on cities, much of it is based on neutral concepts as they relate to gendering: family, population, transport, business districts, and so on. If our understanding of cities and potential policy reforms are to enhance social progress, it is critical to revisit urban planning from a gender perspective in relation to the practical and strategic needs of women (Moser 1993).


4.1.2 Gendering Time


One key concept shows how this can be done: to think of time in gendered ways. An appropriation of women’s time is evident through inconvenient distances to transport, shopping, schools, health services, and possibly jobs (Falú and Segovia 2007; Falú 2008, 2013).[11] For instance, men commute to and from their jobs, and traffic systems are geared mostly to this pattern, albeit with significant differences in quality and frequency by an area’s income level. Women, however, often combine work and family and need short interconnected trajectories given their fragmented uses of time.


These urban patterns point to an appropriation of women’s time and a devaluing of their economic contribution in both their homes and their paid jobs. Ana Falú (2013) takes this a step further by arguing that the different values assigned to their activities are the central gender system for organizing urban space. For instance, the public sphere is marked mostly masculine, so it acquires economic and social value; the private sphere, marked mostly feminine, is given only symbolic value, not even the reproductive work is recognized.  The studies of time use, the distance to infrastructures, facilities, services, the time cost of transport, have a different impact in the life of women than men. 


In order to deepen the evidence base of this phenomenon, “time-use” surveys and time-budget analysis should be conducted in all cities at various scales. As noted by the experts (Durán, Aguirre, Batthyani, Scuro 2010)[12] in these approaches, two tendencies are worth mentioning: total working time is greater among women, while they devote most of their time to unpaid work. Women and girls assume the main caring role. Time-budget studies highlight the contribution of women to invisible, unremunerated work, which results in around the 20-30% of the GDP of cities. Studies situated in Mexico (INEGI) demonstrate that women devote 22 hours more than men per week in terms of paid and unpaid work (i.e. total work) (ECLAC, 2013). Looking at time shows us not just spatial inequalities but also economic ones that are at the core of a sexual division of labour. Figure 8 provides a summary of these trends.


Figure 5.8: Sexual division of labor



Source: ECLAC (2013), Panorama social de America Latina, Publicacion of United Nations.


This is not new knowledge. We learned from Jane Jacobs (1959) about the significance of the proximity of services and equipment for all, and for women in particular. It is important to recognize that gaps in knowledge about omitted subjects are also part of a larger epistemological question about whose knowledge is taken seriously. Such knowledge asymmetries are at the core of the ways in which systemic inequality is reproduced. Inclusive planning must therefore take omitted subjects, and omitted knowledge, seriously when it thinks about productive and inclusive urban forms. Debates on compact versus diffused cities, or the impact of new spatial fragmentation in cities, have to be had in the context of specific identity-based exclusions and their impacts. Thus transportation, for example, takes on questions of different mobility patterns, read in relation to a multiplicity of different marginalized subjectivities and their intersections. If this is achieved one can imagine urban economic plans that centrally feature child-care and flexible working hours for women who carry significant burdens of unpaid work.


4.1.3 Gendering Economic Growth


Another illustration of how disaggregation of knowledge to focus on omitted subjects can highlight barriers to social progress is to think about economic data on growth. To explore this issue, we focus on the Latin American experience. The State of the Cities of the World[13] re-affirms what ECLAC (2008, 2012, 2014) has being demonstrating on the inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) for some time. This study, led by the Global Urban Observatory of UN-Habitat, includes analyses of inputs, consumption and expenditure at the level of cities and provides Gini coefficient data for 101 cities in 47 countries, including 19 in LAC. The results show that with an index of 0.55, the LAC is the most unequal region in the world. Any score above 0.4 is considered problematic.


However, this aggregate score hides further lines of differentiation, especially gender. Women with the same qualifications earn less than men in any education level, and most of them work in the low-end service sector. According to ECLAC, 71% of caregivers are female domestic workers. In most countries, women’s work does not match a male’s minimum wage and has no social benefits. When it comes to the afro-descendant and indigenous population, the gaps are larger, revealing how race intersects with gender in complex ways. This is powerfully illustrated in Figure 9.


Figure 5.9: Black and indigenous women are the poorest in Latin America



Source: Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios (PNAD) – Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística


These income differentials are  important to keep in mind in analyzing the promising economic trends, despite the 2007 financial crisis, over the past decade and a half. According to ECLAC, GDP growth averaged 4.3% for the LAC region and democratic processes were consolidated. Yet despite this growth, a paradox persists: While overall poverty diminished from 45.6% to 25.4% in the period, it increased among women. This increase was particularly evident with women heads of households. This category constitutes 38% of poor households and 43% of indigent households. Moreover, poor women have high fertility rates reflected in have twice as many children than their rich counterparts. Low incomes are associated with constrains in access to sexual health and reproductive rights (Falú, 2013).


These trends reveal the disconnect between economic growth and social progress. Women’s overloaded work burden creates a paradox: the more they work, the poorer they are. Between 1990 and 2008 women’s participation in the work force increased by 21% (more than 100 million women in the region) just as the region registered economic growth and a decrease in poverty. Yet, as we are seeing, poverty did not decrease among women. In 2002, the correlation of numbers in the region was 109 poor women to 100 poor men, and in 2012 the number of poor women rose to 118. Even within this there are important patterns of age differentiation. In linking questions of poverty with age, education and reproduction, the Argentine Institute for Social Development (IDESA) has found that 8 out of 10 young women with children in Argentina, are poor.


The evidence is clear that the nature, quality and remuneration given to women’s work does not change automatically with economic growth. Even when an economy grows, as was the case in the region, the majority of women are unemployed and when they work they are the majority of the lowly paid service sector. Thus 71% of domestic workers are women, of which the majority are indigenous and black women. Linking sexual division of labor with poverty, type of households, and services and equipment it is to note that 45% of the mothers in Brazil (Ford Foundation, 2015) that work outside home, do not have any support for childcare.


Figure 5.10: Urban unemployment rate by sex



Source: ECLAC, sobre la base de tabulaciones especiales de las encuestas de hogares de los respectivos países


Such gendering effects often take on specific forms within a female population through ethnic, race, status, and religious variables, with certain combinations producing the most devastating effects. In South America, being a poor indigenous woman or an afro descendant produces the sharpest negative outcomes. Indeed, they are likely to be the lowest paid but also the most threatened in public space.


            While we have delved in detail into the Latin America case, these patterns apply in many other world regions. For example, data on the informal sector in India shows that the most vulnerable are home-based workers which constitute 23.5 million people (ILO, 2002). One of the striking features of home-based work is its gendered construction. More women choose to work from homes as compared to men because this makes it easier to perform childcare, cooking and other household duties. In the South Asian context, where women’s choices regarding the location of work are often dictated by social norms, social and cultural constraints on mobility, home based work turns out to be the best (sometimes the only) option for many women to access income (Edwards and Field‐Hendrey, 2002, Kantor, 2003, Sudarshan and Sinha, 2011). These patterns are unlikely to be altered even in times of robust growth as India has seen over the past two decades. In addition to a focus on material considerations of space and income, it is imperative to bring non-economic and social phenomena that deeply impact social progress in the frame. The question of violence is of the most urgent.



4.1.4 Increasing violence in cities


There is a persistent violence inflicted on women's bodies just for being women. This crisis has found its way onto the agendas of governments and society. However, despite all progress made in putting the “ending of violence against women” onto the public agenda, not enough progress is being achieved. Violence persists in both public and private domains. Since this issue has come onto public policy agendas, a number of tools have been adopted and explored: the promotion of protocols, participatory planning, and gender responsive budgeting. However, as with all policy measures, they need political will and adequate resourcing to achieve impact. This has not necessarily been forthcoming.


Box 5.2 : Women’s insecurity

  • Only about 10% of sexual crimes are reported to the police, so that the only way to document the true magnitude of the phenomenon is by direct meetings and surveys with women themselves.
  • The reality of violence against women is not reflected in official statistics about crime rates used by authorities and the media.
  • The insecurity endured by women is very well related to the “hidden figures” of crime, i.e., all crimes which are not reported officially.
  • Women’s condition impacts their feeling of insecurity, such as agent, disability, sexual orientation, ethnic minority… (greater vulnerability, racist prejudices and homophobia…); economic dependence and poverty which limit freedom of movement and activities of personal and social development; mental health problems, homelessness, street youth, addiction, sexual exploitation.
  • Certain physical-spatial factors worsen the feeling of insecurity in the urban context:
    • Incivilities; degraded neighborhoods; destruction of urban infrastructures, aggressive and dangerous driving; presence of individuals perceived as threatening.
    • Elements of the urban context: obscurity, lack of street light, deserted spots, corners, wasteland, small alleys, garbage in the street, absence of open shops late at night

Source: CAFSU, La Seguridad de las Mujeres. De la Dependencia a la Autonomía. El Juego de Herramientas del CAFSU. Montreal, 2002.


In order to advance women’s autonomy, ECLAC’s Equal Opportunity Observatory speaks of physical autonomies, the autonomies of political and economic decisions. Building on this approach, one can add the idea of the autonomy in the use of urban space. Women and girls experience multiple and various forms of violence and harassment in public spaces: from staring and leering to stalking and sexual assault. Certain types of harassment and violence, such as aggressive staring and passing comments, have been normalized as a part of urban life. In one study conducted in four cities across the globe, results showed that almost 60% women reported feeling unsafe in urban spaces.[14]


Insecurity and the threat and reality of violence prevent women and girls from participating as full and equal citizens in community life. In terms of the Universal Decleration of Human Rights, women and girls have a “right to the city.” When this right is not realized, women and girls face significant obstacles to educational, economic, and political opportunities. Vera Malagutti (2005) argues that in the case of Rio de Janeiro, the undertow of structural violence naturalize segregation, that manifest in hierarchical spaces and tangible and intangible lines of circulation structured around the imperative to “preserve the purity of the consumption.”


The violence generates fears and inhibits life in the cities. Kessler (2008) notes that the fear regulates social life, and established the grounds for othering—conjuring stigmatized and devaluated groups. This generates public atmospheres in cities with public space perceived as frightening. The anticipated and projected threats of violence establish an alibi for forms of governmentality that are punitive and repressive. The putative perception of insecurity is invariably experienced as a threat and leads to restriction on the use, enjoyment and appropriation of the city.


These restrictions do not apply to men as they do to women. In many ways, especially poor and marginalized women are imprisoned by various forms of insecurity forged by the fabric of representations, emotions and actions that impinge autonomy. This is acutely manifested in the historically neglected place for women in public space, which of course also fuels emancipatory struggles. In short, women lack the same material and symbolic resources for enhancing their relative position in the city, compared to men. Women experience a poverty of rights: the right to political participation, to make decisions about their bodies and reproductive health, to equal access to work, to accessibility, infrastructure, transport and security (Falú, 2009).


Invariably, for women, and other invisible subjects, cities are a political territory, a territory of confrontation. This forces all kinds of risk taking as a means to activate and achieve citizen rights (Pitch 2008). This risk taking breeds an increasing confidence to achieve rights by all, but it does also require more economic, cultural and symbolic resources (Falú, 2013). This is a challenge in itself that is best understood by taking a broader approach to the challenges of urban space.


5. Barriers and challenges to urban space


Social injustice, from a city perspective, has to do with deprivation in several domains like employment, transport, basic services, housing, public space, security, environment and so forth, that strikes particular social groups, e.g. women and/or indigenous populations as explored in the previous section. These multiple and interlocking deprivations has a spatial dimension because power asymmetries creates and produces urban space. Very particular classes and interest groups hold sufficient economic and political weight to have their ambitions shape, design and reproduce cities (Logan and Molotch, 1987; Sassen, 2015). Several dynamics of exclusion and oppression of social groups form a constitutive dynamic of these processes (Young, 1990; Fainstein, 2011).


Cities are manifestly ambiguous. On the one hand they are the locus of creativity, innovation, cooperation and solidarity that feed its complexity and incompleteness, but on the other hand, they harbor and reproduce the most vile excesses, injustice, violence and large-scale deprivations as manifested most acutely in slum living (Davis 2006; UN-Habitat 2016). However, the inhumane conditions of basement bed-renting and over-crowding in Manhattan are another expression of these forms of routinized brutality. On the other extreme closed and gated luxurious residential and consumption spaces are produced at a frenetic pace, deepening spatial inequality (Sassen, 2015).


Rapid urbanization has coincided with the rise of inequalities around the globe, particularly expressed in growing wealth concentration (Piketty, 2014; Oxfam, 2016; Credit Suisse, 2014). Cities, particularly the big metropolitan areas (mega and large cities of 3-10 million) are visible expressions of the concentration of wealth and power. These inequalities, combined with other economic, political and cultural factors, are sources for distrust, anger, frustration (Wilkinson and Pikett, 2009), and are increasingly fuelling collective actions in many cities in both the South and North (Castells, 2012).


These trends bring into question the problem of rights, citizenship and democracy for the future of cities (Schmid, 2012; Harvey, 2008). In order to establish an understanding of how social progress can be achieved amidst these structural dynamics of spatial production, we need to adopt a rights-based approach. This forces a focus on excluded and invisible urban populations and immediately presents the question: how best can capitalist market forces be regulated to attenuate the inherent tendencies of urban capitalist accumulation patterns?


This section explores four general processes that constitute major barriers or challenges for the instantiation of just cities: a) The new logic of capitalist production of urban space; b) the unstable world of employment; c) people on the move and urban space; d) urban democracy, citizenship and rights.


5.1 Unequal production of urban space


The production of space and cities has been historically a deeply contested issue. The material and non-material dimensions on which these production processes are based are the results of convergent and disputed decisions taken by diverse people and groups mediated through institutions, culture and technologies (Hall, 1988; Lefebvre, 2003; Soja, 2000). For example, many cities in the world are not the product of the intentions of the state and formal plans. Instead, they were built by residents and communities in painfully slow but patient increments, involving a variety of strategies and tactics, including occupations, or diverse forms of claims to land and property (Bayat 2010; Simone 1994). These forms of city building, in particular, mark the cities of the global South. It is how favelas in Rio, bastis in Delhi, colonias populares in Mexico City, musseques in Luanda, amchi wastis in Pune, ashwa’iyyat in Cairo, shacks or mjondolos in Durban, sukumbhashi bastis in Dhaka, katchi abadis in Karachi, kampung liars or hak miliks in Kuala Lumpur, and the sahakhums in Phnom Penh, have been built. Teresa Caldeira (2015) writes presciently on this process as a shared history of “auto-construction” — the production of the city by residents and communities building and constructing their own homes and neighborhoods. Auto-construction, she argues, is marked by “transversal engagements with official logics of legal property, formal labor, colonial dominance, state regulation, and market capitalism” (Caldeira, 2015). This does not mean that it is not a spatial or temporal “exception” to a city that is otherwise legible within the orders of land markets, master plans, governance codes, norms and laws.


The de facto patterns of city building that the urban poor are forced to engage in does not negate the fact that some actors are clearly more powerful than others in terms of their resources and capacities to influence urbanization paths and to orient them towards they own interests (Logan and Molotch, 1987; Sassen, 2014). In identifying the potential and scope of forging a just urban society it is essential to map the differential powers that people and groups possesses to shape and drive urban dynamics. This knowledge is essential to assess whether urban policies and investments are putting cities on a more inclusive and sustainable pathway or its opposite (Davis, 2006).


Cities and urban life cannot be disentangled from diverse patterns of capitalist development. Capitalism itself is of course highly dynamic and the latest phase of capitalist adaptation reflect particular spatial expressions, for the city has been the central place where capitalism has historically displayed its vitality (Mumford, 1961; Soja, 2000). Historically and in the current phase of capitalist accumulation, cities occupy a central place in globalized strategies for the commodification of the urban where the city itself and urban life have become a commodity (Schimd, 2012: 55). The actual style of capitalism is characterized by growing financialisation, rapid technological change, increasing wealth concentration – where inherited wealth is more prominent than produced wealth – severe environmental exploitation, and a tendency for crisis. The global economy is dogged by the crisis of low growth, which holds deep implications for how actual cities are being produced and lived (De Mattos, 2016; Harvey, 2010; Piketty, 2014; Sassen, 2014; Streeck, 2014). One can therefore anticipate that observed predatory formations will produce even more extreme concentration of wealth, power and influence (Sassen, 2014).


In this context, what Young (1990) labeled structural organization of decision-making and Molotch (1976) the City as a growth machine, have been transformed into a much wider and complex web of interactions oriented to the extraction and appropriation of urban value, which combines new technologies, sophisticated scientific models, new financial products and regulatory frameworks to deal with the production of urban landscape (Sassen, 2014). This process, in turn, has accelerated the problem of severe wealth concentration with wider implications for urban futures. A telling illustration of this is the recent trends of large scale purchasing building stock and land by powerful footloose global groups. The exclusionary real estate dynamics of London and other major financial centres are a direct consequence of this. Some of the risks of these processes are: a reduction of urban social complexity and the loss of diversity, the growing shift from public to private space, and the undermining of urban democracy and rights (Sassen, 2015).  


In the actual global urban network, the cities that attract the super rich, e.g. London, New York, Miami, Frankfurt, Hong Kong or Singapore, contrast dramatically with the growing global South cities. In the latter, internal and international migrations, combined with the economic inability to absorb a rapidly expanding labor force, and the lack of sound urban policies, continuously reproduces slum urbanism. Notable examples include Dharavi in India, Manshiet in Egypt, Kibera in Kenya, Organi Town in Pakistan, Makoko in Nigeria or Villa El Salvador in Peru. In the contexts, informality is effectively a mode of urbanization (Roy 2009).


The first challenge is this: who produces the city and for which purposes? Addressing this question points to two competing logics. The first regards the city, and space more generally, as a source of profit. The second logic deems the city as a potential source of achieving a dignified life and thriving habitat. However, over the past three decades the former logic has had the upper hand due to neoliberalism inspired urban policies and institutional forms. Cities have been managed on the assumption that deregulated markets offer the optimal mechanism to develop competitive advantages, or more precisely, to look at the city as a key productive force to promote growth (Fainstein, 2011; Santos Junior et al, 2015). This approach is a break with earlier spatial Keynesianism or social democratic welfare regimes, which focused on promoting spatial balance or equity through distributive policies (Brenner, 2004).


The tensions between these logics are manifested in national and urban planning, regulatory frameworks and urban laws that regulate how these logics are mediated. Significantly, the draft New Urban Agenda, due for adoption at the Habitat III convening in October 2016, explicitly confronts this issue, raising hopes that the pendulum might be swinging away from neoliberal orthodoxy in favor of more redistributive approaches, rooted in the right to the city discourse.[15] This is partly driven by recent collective action in cities in numerous world regions. The significant increase in public protest and direct actions reflects increasing concerns to transform or modify actual urban policy frameworks and institutions towards more inclusive and sustainable models. Habitat III will be an important barometer whether we are witnessing a tipping point in global urban policies tending towards the just city.


5.2 The uncertain world of work


A second key barrier to achieving a just city, especially in developing world cities, is the limited capacity for job creation. Increasingly this problem stalk developed countries as well as witnessed across Southern Europe where youth unemployment climb well into the 20-30 per cent range. Recent projections by the International Labour Organisation confirms that the outlook is bleak across most world regions (ILO, 2016). To this one has to add the growing intensity of automation which presents a further risk of making a variety of occupational categories redundant.


Global South cities and economies demonstrate high rates of informal employment, concentrated in a variegated range of unskilled activities, characterized by very low productivity, irregular and low wages, and limited social safety nets. For Latin America recent reports show that the percentage of informal labor in urban areas reaches an average of 46%, but with figures over 60% in countries like Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru (CEPAL/OIT, 2015). The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) reports that in “recent years, African countries have experienced remarkable economic growth, but this has not generated sufficient decent jobs for the millions of young persons who enter the labour market each year. While it is estimated that there are 122 million new entrants annually, African countries created only 37 million jobs over the last decade, out of which only 28 percent were in wage-paying formal jobs” (ECA, 2015: 2).


Another significant proportion of informal employment is increasingly linked to illegal economies, which means dangerous, unhealthy and criminal jobs and that could account, according to some estimations, for 10% of global GDP (Carrión, 2013). These trends have two main territorial expressions: frontiers and cities, even though both are linked to wider global networks. Interestingly, the most recurrent activities for these illegal networks  are to operate in urban-based economic sectors such as real estate, commerce and tourism (Carrión, 2013). 


There are several causal factors, which help to explain the difficulties to generate adequate levels of employment, depending on Continents, countries, regions, or cities. Among them it could be mentioned: population growth, migration patterns, labor saving technologies, aging societies and discrimination. However, one fundamental underlying factor is the inner logic of capitalist development which, as highlighted previously, is increasingly driven by the imperatives of financialisation that produces extreme wealth concentration, and a preponderance for recurrent crisis and low growth.


The crisis prone nature of capitalist development has been responsible, for example, for massive job loss and evictions in the context of the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and concomitant austerity programs in several European cities, like Athens and Madrid, and widespread job losses in main metropolitan areas of the United States (Harvey, 2012; Mendez, 2014; Hadjimichalis, 2013; BLS, 2010). Wealth concentration is connected with low growth patterns because aggregate demand is stagnant due to the massive differences in saving rates among diverse social groups (Stiglitz, 2012; Dabla-Norris et al, 2015). Put differently, households and workers who experience a stagnation or decline in real wages are unable to save, or at least at the same rates. Thus, unsurprisingly, income and social inequalities continue to widen and aggregate economic activity stagnates.          


Public policies that seek to intervene to reverse these trends will have to confront the challenge of expanding equality of opportunities by tackling the discriminations that specific social groups face in terms of gender, age, race, and so for, as argued in the previous section. Furthermore, there is also a need to reduce actual income differences among different employment categories by placing a cap on upper-end earning and raising the minimum income level alongside introducing universal income grants. This is the only way to achieve great equality of occupational and class positions (Dubet, 2015). A key challenge for urban justice is the search for new sources of jobs that could fulfill two objectives: level and quality. In this respect, the important new debates on the next technological innovation cycle that can advance a sustainable economy, expansion of social, solidarity, circular and care economies, are vital for rethinking the employment underpinning of urban justice, place-making and new bases for network economies (Mason 2015; UNEP 2014; WBGU 2016).


5.3 People on the move and unequal cities


Throughout history Cities have been both sources of expulsion and shelter. In the case of the latter, the urban economic, social, cultural, and political infrastructural landscapes are subjected to strong pressures to adapt to sudden inflows of people. However, the scale of recent international and national migrations has skyrocketed in several parts of the world, especially in Africa and Asia.


Globalization fuels migration. Recent figures indicate that there are 232 million international migrants and 740 million internal migrants, and 50% of the former are concentrated in cities of ten highly industrialized countries (IOM, 2015). A new phenomenon is the growing South-South migrations caused by the fast economic growth of some emergent countries like China and India, where there has been a significant transformation of urbanization patterns (IOM, 2015: 37).


Africa and Asia, as the IOM report highlight, have seen a massive movement of people both externally and internally, and this process has been deployed into a variegated types or cities and urban spaces, not only megacities, but also secondary cities, peri-urban spaces, transit cities and so on. Most of the newly arrived are normally confined to informal or illegal spaces, in terms of housing and economic activities. The overdetermination of informality makes it almost impossible for these citizens to access and exercise social and civic rights. These processes have taken on a cumulative dynamic over generations creating a material reality of coexistence between older and more recent slum urbanisms (IOM, 2015: 45).


Migrations are a multidimensional process propelled by different causes, e.g. socioeconomic needs, political or religious conflicts and wars, and more recently, climate change and natural hazards, among others. The growth of extractive economies around the world, driven by a strong global demand for commodities, are a trigger for rural-to-urban migration, illustrating the links between urban dynamics and the so called “non-urban” (Sassen, 2014; Brenner, 2013; Arboleda, 2015). According to Sassen (2014), massive habitat destruction, linked to recent extractive economies, but more generally to modern production and consumption patterns, has reached a scale never seen before. Additionally, the critical degradation of air, earth and water has impacted upon particularly poor communities, leading to evacuations of an estimated 800 million people around the globe (Sassen, 2014).


Related to the increased interest in natural resources is the process of land grabbing, led by multinational corporations and private investment, with additional impacts on migrations to cities of poor farmers around the world. This process has been particularly visible in Africa and Asia, with millions of hectares involved (Magdoff, 2013). Some of the factors influencing massive land grabbing are free trade agreements, the relaxing of foreign investment regulations in global south countries, the financialization of the global economy, the price increases of food, the increasing interest in biofuels and depletion of water reserves (Magdoff, 2013).


Linked to the process of lost of habitats and migrations to cities, there is the problem of climate change, clearly influenced by human forces, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report demonstrates (IPCC, 2013). This feeds into associated phenomena like more intense and frequent drought, desertification, deforestation, land degradation, more intense and frequent floods, and sea-level rise. Migrations caused by climate change could spark conflicts because of the scope and speed of movement that will be effected (Reuveny, 2007). Climate change migration could induce heightened competition for scarce resources, ethnic tensions and rising levels of distrust, which in combination could trigger conflict (Reuveny, 2007).


6. Technology and the city


During the last decade there has been a noticeable interest in the potential of digital technology to save the city from congestion, pollution, waste, crime, uneven service provision, information gaps, and so forth, under the rubric of the marketing discourse: smart cities. However, across time, people and social conditions have complicated the straightforward implementation of technologies. The mix of specific materialities of daily life and people’s cultures of use is not easily predictable. Such a mix can unsettle or disrupt the best technical designs —and has done so in past eras and in today’s digitally driven world. This holds at many levels – from advanced complex systems to daily applications of standard technologies.


In the late twentieth century, massive developments in telecommunications and the ascendance of information industries led analysts and politicians to proclaim the end of cities. Cities, they told us, would become obsolete as economic entities. The growth of information industries allows firms and workers to remain connected no matter where they are located. The digitizing of both services and trade shifts many economic transactions to electronic networks, where they can move instantaneously around the globe or within a country. Indeed, from the 1970s onward, there have been large-scale relocations of offices and factories to less congested and lower-cost areas than central cities, as well as the growth of computerized clerical work that could be located anywhere—in a clerical “factory” in the Bahamas or China or a home in a nearby suburb. Although these trends may be sharpest in the United States, they are evident in a growing number of countries around the world. Finally, the emergent globalization of economic activity seems to suggest that place—particularly the type of place represented by cities—no longer matters.


But, in fact, the spatial dispersion of the economy is only half of the story of today’s global and digital age. Alongside the well- documented spatial dispersal of economic activities and the increased digitizing of the sphere of consumption and entertainment are the growing spatial concentrations of a wide range of highly specialized professional activities, top-level management, and control operations, as well as, perhaps most unexpectedly, a multiplication of low-wage jobs and low- profit economic sectors. More analytically, these trends point to the development of novel forms of territorial centralization amid rapidly expanding economic and social networks with global span.


Given the generalized trends toward dispersal—whether at the metropolitan or global level—and given the widespread conviction that this is the future, what needs explaining is that at the same time, centralized territorial nodes are growing. Why and how do firms and markets that operate in multi-sited national and global settings require central places where the top-level work of running global systems gets done. Information technologies and industries designed to span the globe require a vast physical infrastructure containing strategic nodes with hyper-concentrations of material facilities. Even the most advanced information industries, such as global finance and the specialized corporate legal and accounting services, have a production process that is partly place-bound—not all of the activities of these industries circulate in electronic networks.


Once these place-centered processes are brought into the analysis of the new global and electronic economy, surprising observations emerge. These centralized territorial nodes of the digitized global economy turn out to be not only the world of top-level transnational managers and professionals but also that of their secretaries and that of the janitors cleaning the buildings where the new professional class works. Further, it is also the world of a whole new workforce, increasingly made up of immigrant and minoritized citizens in more and more cities, who take on the functions once performed by the mother/wife in the older middle classes: the nannies, domestic cleaners, and dog walkers who service the households of the new professional class also hold jobs in the new globalized sectors of the economy. So do truck drivers and industrial service workers.


Thus emerges an economic configuration very different from that suggested by the concept of information economy. We recover the material conditions, production sites, and place-boundedness that are also part of globalization and the information economy. To understand the new globalized economic sectors, we actually need detailed examinations of a broad range of activities, firms, markets, and physical infrastructures that go beyond the images of global electronic networks and the new globally circulating professional classes.


Such detailed examinations allow us to see the actual role played by cities in a global economy. They help us understand why, when the new information technologies and telecommunications infrastructures were introduced on a large scale in all advanced industries beginning in the 1980s, we saw sharp growth in the central business districts of the leading cities and international business centers of the world—New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Frankfurt, São Paulo, Hong Kong, Sydney, Istanbul, Beijing, among others. For some cities, this era took off in the 1980s, and for others, in the 1990s and into the new century. But all experienced some of their highest growth in decades in the form of a vast expansion of the actual area covered by state-of-the-art office districts, high-end shopping, hotel, and entertainment districts, and high-income residential neighbor-hoods. The numbers of firms opening up in these downtown areas grew sharply.


These trends that took off in major cities in the 1980s, 1990s, and onward go against what was expected according to models emphasizing territorial dispersal; this is especially true considering the high cost of locating a business enterprise in a major downtown area. Complicating the understanding of the new global economy and also often receiving most of the attention from the media and commentators was the fact that the departure of large commercial banks, insurance firms, and corporate headquarters was far more visible than the growth of smaller, highly specialized, and high-profit firms that was happening at the same time. This suggests that the growth trends were part of a new type of economic configuration. Thus, explaining the place of cities simply in terms of the departure of large corporate firms and the growing dispersal trends was evidently missing a key new component of the story.


But this still leaves us with the question, if information technologies have not made cities obsolete, have they at least altered the economic function of cities—have cities lost some of their old functions and gained new ones we could not quite understand when this new phase was taking off? And if this is so, what does it tell us about the importance of place and its far greater mix of diverse economic sectors and social groups than is suggested by the prevalent imagery of high-level corporate economic globalization and information flows? Is there a new and strategic role for major cities, a role linked to the formation of a truly global economic system, a role not sufficiently recognized by analysts and policymakers? And could it be that the reason this new and strategic role has not been sufficiently recognized is that economic globalization—what it actually takes to implement global markets and processes—is not only about massive dispersal of operations around the world but also about thick places where key activities concentrate to more and more acute levels –as is he case with all major global cities?


The notion of a global economy has become deeply entrenched in political and media circles all around the world. Yet its dominant images—the instantaneous transmission of money around the globe, the information economy, the neutralization of distance through telematics—are partial, and hence profoundly inadequate, representations of what globalization and the rise of information economies actually entail for the concrete life of cities. Missing from this abstract model are the actual material processes, activities, and infrastructures crucial to the implementation of globalization.


Overlooking the spatial dimension of economic globalization and overemphasizing the virtual information dimensions have served to distort the role played by major cities in the current phase of economic globalization. A focus on cities almost inevitably brings with it recognition of the existence of multiple social groups, neighborhoods, contestations, claims, and inequalities. In view of this, we move the discussion into a critical exploration of the “promise” and challenges of technology in the city.


6.1 When technology makes major interventions in urban space


Technology has the ability to promote social change and advance urban development in numerous positive ways. In theory, these ways also include substantial improvements in the urban environment and how we interact with the natural world. The history of technology innovation demonstrates that with each major shift there are profound social and cultural adaptations that follow in tow (Perez 2013). Technology sociologists suggest that we are on the cusp of a number of significant technological convergences that could herald very different forms of mobility, service provision, living arrangements and socialities. In order to appreciate the potential scope of these advances, we will take a brief detour through the anticipated “internet of things” and “smart city” potentialities. These agendas incorporate new transportation systems, robotics, virtual reality, and health breakthroughs that could lead to significant improvements in urban liveability, convenience and efficiency.


While the benefits and application of technology can vary depending on location, access, affordability and the people using it, in general terms thoughtfully deployed technological innovations can result in positive development of urban areas. Moreover, technological innovation has the potential to improve the day-to-day lives of city residents across the world. In practice we are more likely to see these experiments going from prototype to deployment in developed societies, especially wealthy cities and a substantial market for automated intelligent services. A few examples are worth mentioning.


Figure 5.11: Visualization of cars on demand



Within the realm of transportation, new advances in autonomous vehicles are changing the potential ways people could move around the city. Driverless vehicles are capable of navigating busy streets using advanced GPS technology. Sensors and on-board computer systems provide continuous feedback between the exterior environment and the vehicle’s actions. Passengers can opt to focus on other more productive or leisure activities and can avoid the stress of commuting in dense urban environments. This could be of considerable use to the elderly, who may lack the ability to handle stressful driving situations. The benefits of autonomous vehicles also extend to safety concerns. Many of these systems can react quickly to sudden changes, such as by sensing a speeding car in the opposite lane, or detecting erratic driving behaviour in other vehicles. If an accident or crash does occur, AVs are often equipped with an automated connection to emergency services, and can share important, life-saving, information over a network.


Another projected technological advancement is that of personal rapid transit, which would take the form of personal pods seating 1-2 people, as is being envisioned by a group called Skytran (see Figure 11). These could be stored on the roofs or sides of buildings and offer on-demand transportation through a network of rails, removing the need for large roadways near living areas. For longer distances and greener commuting, maglev pods offer incredible possibilities for cross-state or cross-country travel. These transportation advances will radically change how people move and interact with the city around them. And of course, these benefits should be applied to all sectors of society, reflecting the diversity of socio-cultural and economic circumstances held within cities.


Also reflecting a shift of human-led to computer-led actions is that of smarter homes. Much like autonomous vehicles, future homes will have the capacity to carry out regular daily activities for its occupants. Houses will be managed by centralised systems that network functions such as electricity, water and gas, as well as waste disposal to central control systems and the larger network of the block and city in order to optimize the consumption of resources and regulate demand and supply.


This kind of system, though not as extensive, has already been introduced in Songdo, South Korea. The entire town was designed from the beginning to be a ‘Smart City, with waste being ferried directly from houses to purification facilities through hidden pipelines. Computer systems are integrated throughout the city—in homes, roads, light fixtures and buildings. In this system, environmentally-sustainable living practices could become much more commonplace and easy to manage. Moreover, they could be monitored in tandem with other homes and neighborhoods within a wider city-network. This would provide a method of implementing and monitoring city-wide environmental policy.


At the personal level, daily tasks like cleaning, cooking and shopping for household goods would become easier—potentially benefiting both rich and poor households, the young and old. Rooms could be adaptive, changing shape or design based on time-of-day, or even physical parameters. For example, if several guests arrive for dinner, the room dimensions and furniture could automatically shift to open up space and provide a more relaxing environment. This type of application has already been achieved at a much smaller level with ‘Exobuilding’—a large tent-canopy that changes based on physical factors. Again, it must be stressed that this technology should be available to all demographic sectors, without price or location barriers. The political economy of city-wide infrastructure systems and access will be explored further down.


Buildings themselves can benefit from newly developed technology and improve their urban environment instead of disrupting it. Living buildings, which can be ‘living’, ‘regenerative’, and ‘adaptive’ offer unique possibilities. In the first option, living buildings are powered by their natural environment, harnessing rain for water and wind/sun for power. Regenerative structures actually improve their environment by using biotic coating and materials to increase plant life and habitats. They also produce more energy than required and can share with nearby structures. Adaptive buildings are open and able to be moved or changed to fit the needs of a location or climate, and can be repurposed much more easily than traditional buildings.


Moving to a more macro view of smart homes, smart cities can offer an all-encompassing integration of technology and urban space/development. These integrated systems at the city-level provide a way to manage infrastructure and keep residents ‘connected to the city’. People could be directly integrated as part of the city system, allowing more accurate planning and more speedy responses to individual and community needs—whether they be a park’s fixed tennis court used by a few dozen people, or a disadvantaged community in need of extra security during certain nights.


Overall, these technological advancements (as well as many others not mentioned) have a surplus of positive benefits for city life. As long as they remain inclusive, and account for the socio-cultural differences inherent within cities, they can improve urban life for residents anywhere in the world.


For reasons discussed in the previous parts of the chapter, it is not self-evident that more just and inclusive decisions will be taken in the future development of cities. It is therefore imperative to locate the smart city agenda within a larger matrix of policy design, negotiation, prioritization and sequencing that should mediate the allocation of scarce resources. Beyond the ideal of extending technological innovations in mobility, construction and household functioning to everyone, the cold reality is that at the moment these innovations are reinforcing the intensification of urban inequalities discussed before. Put differently, smart city solutions are commoditized as part of the elite offering of gated living and business parts that essentially eliminate cityness and further raise the barriers to full urban inclusion. It is important to remain open to the potential of technological innovations, especially when it forms parts of a larger agenda to provide universal access to basic services but it requires explicit forums where the implicit trade-offs can be aired, debated and resolved. Another important dimension of the role and function of technology is the meaning and use-value of technology, which is usually very different to what the engineers assume they will be.


6.2 Digital ecologies of meaning


Cities are particularly complex and mixed settings. The enormous variety of urban issues makes cities both a key site for the implementation of an extremely broad range of technologies, and a lens to detect what all else might benefit from developing applications.[16] The city becomes a site for both implementation and discovery of what else is needed.  It allows us to understand a range of diverse interactions between users (whether systems, organizations, or people) and digital technologies (more precisely, the design and implementation of these technologies). 


Thus the city can bring to the fore a feature of electronic interactive domains that remains insufficiently examined: it is that the technical properties of these domains deliver their utility to users through complex ecologies that include more, often much more, than the technical capacities in play. Such ecologies include a) ‘non-technological’ variables -- the social, the subjective, the political, all variables that characterize users more so than the technology, b) the fact that these ‘non-technological’ variables can and do shape technical developments but probably could do much more of this, especially by broadening the range of cultures and social differences present in this shaping, and they include c) the particular cultures of use of different actors. It is this intermediation that brings in the social, the political, the economic, the cultural, and more, into a technical space.


An example of the need to bring these variables into the picture is that of so-called smart city development. In this case technology inputs are akin to infrastructure and are mostly run centrally; this is good for handling specific needs, mostly standardized, that concern both the buildings as such and peoples’ needs. But it leaves users’ capacities and at least some needs out of the picture. The user is reduced to choosing from pre-designed options with little if any chance to contribute to those choices (or to designs, or types of technical applications, and so on) and thereby have a sort of learning curve about the technical. In short, one key dimension of having a genuinely smart city is open-sourcing the pertinent systems.


As we add intelligence to tools and systems we must enable human intelligence to move as well in order to be part of it. This is not confined to programming. Critical are forms of knowledge that bring in the social, the cultural, the political into the digital as it instantiates in diverse settings. If we do not introduce these, admittedly messy, components we delegate the making of knowledge about these technologies to the engineers and software designers. From the social perspective this would mean we simply fall back onto basic mechanizing, where the machine takes over and our role disappears or is routinized. Instead, we should recognize that at least some of these technologies, when used by people, can be constituted partly in social terms.


When we look at electronic interactive domains as part of larger ecologies, rather than as a purely technical condition, we make conceptual and empirical room for the broad range of social logics driving users and the diverse cultures of use through which the digital interactive space acquires meaning. Each of these logics and cultures activates an ecology. These activating features tend to be absent in much of today's technically driven analysis of digital capabilities and their implementation to address human needs (and whims). And herein lies a vast research and theorization agenda.


6.3 Deploying technical capabilities in the city


Urban policymakers have identified new technologies as motors of urban development and social change. Yet there is often a distinct gap between the deployment of high-tech “solutions” and the technical acumen and cultural expectations of the urban population. The result is that these new technologies are poorly utilized, and often serve more of an aesthetic rather than functional purpose. We need to devise a more productive approach to the use of technology—for example, through the formulation of low- and “middle”-tech approaches that celebrate the transformative power of new technologies while also acknowledging the social, technical, and financial limitations of urban dwellers, especially in developing countries.


It is incumbent upon us to critically interrogate the emphasis that many rapidly developing cities are placing on digitalization and information technology as motors of urban development and social change. In Southeast Asian cities such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, there is a distinct gap between the introduction of sophisticated technologies, the technical acumen of the urban population, and the ability of local economies and education systems to produce tech-related employment opportunities. A very concrete example: many taxis are outfitted with a GPS system, but quite a few taxi drivers have no idea how to operate them. Similarly, most new buildings in Southeast Asia are outfitted with touchscreen information panels, but they are often inoperable, and thus serve more of an aesthetic rather than functional purpose. Finally, quite a few cities have devoted considerable resources to developing technology-focused innovation districts designed to house firms from the fields of IT, biotechnology, etcetera. But in actual fact many of these districts are unable to attract enough companies, and instead deploy a “high-tech” image as a real estate development strategy aimed at selling condominiums and filling shopping centers in the immediate surroundings of “high-technology zones,” which themselves suffer from very low tenancy rates. 


How can we devise a more productive approach to the use of technology in rapidly developing cities, and in rapidly developing world regions such as Southeast Asia? A more appropriate response might be to devise low-tech, or “middle-tech” approaches that acknowledge both the transformative power of new technologies, as well as the social, technical, and financial limitations of urban dwellers in developing countries. In this regard the investigations of Filip de Boeck (2012) and Sylvia Jaglyn (2014; 2015) into hybrid infrastructure architectures in poor African cities provide useful tools and entry points.


6.4 The planned and the unplanned city: How can the formal and informal work together?[17]


It is noteworthy that contemporary studies on urban development often focus on large-scale megaprojects such as airport hubs, satellite towns, and master-planned university campuses. These observations are infused with an element of “megastructure porn”: that is, a visual attraction to the sheer scale of what is being built in rapidly developing cities in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Yet remarkably little attention has been paid to the many ways in which these urban projects, once built, are appropriated by the public for purposes that diverge considerably from—and often negate—their intended uses. We aim to draw attention to the informal, creative, and unsanctioned reconfigurations of urban megaprojects in order to rethink some of our fundamental assumptions about the aesthetic, social, and spatial dimensions of urbanization. By studying the informal and unplanned uses of formal infrastructure projects, we argue that formal and informal do not stand in opposition to one another, but rather need to be understood as mutually beneficial processes.


In this spirit, anthropologist, de Boeck (2012) snares the imagination with an interpretation of Africa’s potholes, a common characteristic of the disrupted mobility network, by forcing one to reconsider the particular qualities of African urbanity: an altogether strange and uncanny temporal and spatial reality. Inside this reading, formality deficits are not an anomaly but rather the norm that enables and mediates everyday living and opportunity. Potholes are the expression of a different configuration of infrastructure that enable the assembling of slowing down movement, instantiating the potential for markets due to what he calls “alternative spheres of social interaction, and different coping strategies and regimes of knowledge and power” (de Boeck, 2012: 1). Visible, conventional modalities of development and delivery fundamentally neglect the daily engagements, negotiations and connections that comprise makeshift urbanism (Pieterse 2016). 


De Boeck’s take on urban Africa and the opportunities that arise in the absence of critical infrastructures is enhanced by Jaglin (2014; 2016), who suggests that despite the absence of infrastructure networks, African cities are arguably post-networked cities, simply because swathes of urban settlements and the built environment do in fact function. Yet, they have somehow bypassed the conventional notion of the modern networked city supported by the ‘modern infrastructural ideal’ (Graham and Marvin, 2001) or the ‘integrated urban ideal’ (Gandy, 2004). Modern configurations of conventional service delivery modalities are not uniformly appropriate for cities of the global South. Yet there is insufficient attention paid to the innovative and transient systems extended as hybrid provisional solutions in the debate on service delivery in impoverished urban settelments (Harris, 2016). Harris (2016: 155) explains that hybrid systems “defy easy categorization or generalization” as a result of their context specific emergence, “impacted by specific technical, social and institutional realties”, which Jaglin (2014) refers to as socio-technical dispositifs. By embracing, revealing and utilizing socio-technical hybridization, diversity and permanently heterogeneous assemblages, it is no longer necessary to remain wedded to the traditional urban growth trajectory of pre-networked to the post-networked city (Jaglin, 2016). Technological interventions coupled with the decentralization and devolution of management authority to local governments, and the failure of local urban policy reform account the configuration of robust decentralized hybrid networks that provide services in unconventional, heterogeneous ways ensuring daily reproductions. It is in this way that Jaglin (2016) raises the possibility of “off-network cities”.


Hybrid delivery configurations are not only useful for delivering basic services to the urban poor. Informal operators, alternative suppliers and small-scale providers, who operate alongside, or as an appendage to, conventional utilities, recognize the demand and spending power of heterogeneous urban societies and have taken it upon themselves to deliver services where conventional modalities are defunct or nonexistent (Jaglin, 2014). Significantly, socio-economic and spatial dynamics that determine and influence demand include the (anticipated) emerging middle class as well as unregulated, mushrooming urban sprawl and therefore some dispositifs can be characterized as modern, and delivered with a degree of sophistication while others are makeshift, and generally low-cost (Jaglin, 2016). Conventional operators, relying on conventional delivery modalities, are unable to contend with these socio-economic and spatial specificities. Examples of hybrid configurations that constitute the delivery of services are dotted across Africa’s urban settlements. These bring the argument to life and offer a taste of the imagination of Africa’s urban residents and the possibilities for service delivery modalities.


An exemplary case is M-KOPA, a Kenyan based private company, which provides reliable electricity to households unconnected from the grid, who alternatively purchase small quantities of kerosene[18] for illumination at a premium (Tracy and Jacobson, 2012), and households who are unsatisfied with existing, interrupted services. A combination of decentralised solar power and telecommunication technologies provide consumers with access to clean and affordable electricity while circumventing the need for central delivery networks and accommodating income volatility (Rolffs et al., 2014). Consumers pay a deposit on a decentralised solar system[19] via the mobile payment platform, M-PESA, which allows the frequency and size of balance re-payment to be distributed over time depending on cash flow and income. Daily re-payments are designed to be less than the average spent on alternative fuels such as kerosene, offering economic and environmental dividends. The upfront deposit is considered to be relatively high, because it incentivises a long-term commitment; but in the same way this limits competition and flexibility by locking consumers into a particular service provider. The challenge of lock-in associated with large-scale industrial infrastructure systems is a feature of conventional services and can also apply in certain cases to hybrid systems as discussed by Alhers et al.’s (2013) with regard to Greater Maputo.


The M-Kopa case provides a useful indicator for how medium-tech innovations can be deployed to enhance organic, affordable practices that may not be the most technologically advanced, but they provide a basis from which to integrate with such sophisticated systems in the future, whilst also being able to make a material difference in the lives of those who are most marginalized and excluded from urban opportunities. Against the backdrop of the hugely complex landscape of technology and city-making, we now turn to the fundamental question for the chapter: How can social justice be realized in the city?


7. Just urban societies and the right to the city


There has been a growing interest in approaches to development that incorporates a reflection on the pursuit of social justice as constitutive of an enlarged understanding human wellbeing and flourishing. The contributions of thinkers like John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Nancy Fraser, Iris Marion Young, Achille Mbembe, among others come to mind. It is in this intellectual context that urban justice has appeared as an important perspective to think with about actual and future urban trajectories. However, the profound challenges associated with intensifying inequality, privatization of the commons, urbanization of poverty, rising insecurity and acute gender inequality has also played a major part in exploring the relevance of urban justice. This debate is key to appreciating the importance of the right to the city as rallying cry for a more just urban future and the recommendations that will follow in the next section.


7.1 Notions of Urban Justice


Fainstein (2011: 3) argues that the instinctive notion of injustice “consist of actions that disadvantage those who already have less or who are excluded from entitlements enjoyed by others who are no more deserving.” Thinking in urban terms, injustice could be related to asymmetric capacities of citizens to create, produce and use cities and urban spaces, combined with increasing income inequalities, social exclusion of significant urban groups, which all in tandem generate negative effects for social interactions. The production of unequal cities, not only in terms of socio-economic inequalities but increasingly in terms of urban design and planning have specific negative impacts on the prospects of integrating vulnerable social groups into a thriving urban polity.


A feature in many urban settings across the world is spatial fragmentation and intensifying separation of functions. In contexts of prior social social divides and inequalities, these tendencies augment exclusion. Specifically, the separation of residence from workplace as new public or informal housing is located at the periphery of the city. These spatial patterns do not only pertain to access places of employment, but also the consumption of social services centers and public spaces, and are particularly discriminating against social groups who face obstacles to mobility, e.g. the elderly, disabled and chronically poor groups. As argued before, woman carry the burden of care for dependent populations, including children, which place further social reproductive costs on them. These trends are most acutely manifest in the increase in travel times between house and often multiple sites of work if women occupy 2-3 service jobs as domestic workers. In large cities estimations show that the average travel time on public transport can be two times more than private cars and that the population of poor suburbs could spend three or four hours a day travelling with significant impacts in quality of life (CAF, 2011).


A key feature of the urban condition in most cities in the global South is: spatial illegality. Inhabiting the city through spatial illegality has a number of impacts that act as direct and indirect barriers to securing urban justice. The most evident is the impact of insecure tenure through the threat and reality of forced evictions. Insecure tenure deeply shapes household investment patterns in every aspect of their individual and collective social development due to the threat (let alone the reality) of forced evictions. For millions of households annually, the threat is all too real.


Yet, even without eviction, spatial illegality represents a condition of terminal delay. Communities who live with this kinds of uncertainty and risk experience delayed provision of public and environmental services, which tend to only materialize through sustained political contestation and struggle. Invariably, basic human development outcomes are thus delayed or denied. This trend exposes the structuring tension between enforcing legal and regulatory imperatives versus providing basic services to address fundamental human rights to housing, wellbeing and education.


Most slum, makeshift and peripheral communities live in this limbo between victimization and recognition. Thus, individual lives are marked often by a combination of insecure tenure as well as informal employment, creating joint and deep constraints to exist as equal citizens and legitimate stakeholders in urban development. These constraints are both formal – the lack of a legal address or work contract – as well as affective, including the inability to be considered a full legal resident by being reduced to the idea of “encroachment” or “trespassing.” It is imperative that urban development interventions aimed at improving slum conditions go beyond economic and spatial interventions and confront the core questions of legitimate and legal urban residence. Legitimate right to land and tenure are the foundation stones of urban justice.


It is important to recognize the societal and individual costs of high levels of inequality. It is typically associated with deterioration in the quality of social relations, which can express in violence, anger, malaise, depression, loneliness and distrust (Wilkinson and Pikett, 2009). In political cultural terms inequality can also fuel growing levels of distrust and disaffection with democracy. Thus, in the last decade we have seen massive urban collective action against the causes and manifestations of urban injustice, placing democratic institutions charged with regulating social tensions, under enormous pressure (Latinobarómetro, 2015; Castells, 2012; Hadjimichalis, 2013, Ruiz, 2015).


It is imperative to ask: How can urban institutions help to improve the quality of social relations? How might cities become spaces for cooperation and solidarity? These questions pose a big challenge for urban planning and design to improve their efficacy to produce just urban spaces that foster inclusiveness, sociability, cooperation, and autonomy.[20] An important challenge for thinking urban justice is then how to deal with contrasting, and increasingly conflictive, approaches about what a City is for: a place for capital accumulation versus a place for human development? This stark choice returns the argument to the issues explored at the outset of the chapter: Can cities be imagined beyond the narrow imperative of conceiving urban space as mainly sites of productive forces, places for accumulation and the realization of exchange value, which constitutes the relentless commodification of urban space (Schmid, 2012)?


7.2 Urban Justice via the Right to the City


This wide range of issues related with urban justice can be formulated in terms of the “Right to the City” concept and movement. Several global, national and local initiatives are growing around this notion, e.g. the World Charter for the Right to the City, the European Charter for Human Rights in the City, the City Statute of Brazil, the Montreal Charter of Rights to the City, and the Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City (Moura and Azevedo, 2016; Purcell, 2013).


The World Charter for the Right to the City provides an important formulation:


The Right to the City broadens the traditional focus on improvement of peoples’ quality of life based on housing and the neighborhood, to encompass quality of life at the scale of the city and its rural surroundings, as a mechanism of protection of the population that lives in cities or regions with rapid urbanization processes. This implies initiating a new way of promotion, respect, defense and fulfillment of the civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights guaranteed in regional and international human rights instruments.[21]


In the Mexican case, the Right to the City is defined as:


… the equitable use of cities within the principles of sustainability, democracy, equity, and social justice. It is a collective right of the inhabitants of cities, conferring to them legitimacy of action and organization, based on respect for their differences, expressions, and cultural practices, with the objective to achieve full exercise of the Right to Free Determination and to an adequate level of life. The Right to the City is interdependent of all the integrally-conceived, internationally recognized human rights, and therefore includes all the civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights regulated in the international human rights treaties. (México City Charter for the Right to the City, 2010)[22]


The progressive nature of this notion is quite evident because it considers the City as a collective good and recognizes multiple rights for its inhabitants. Nevertheless, as a concept and political claim it remains the focus of robust debates among academics, urban movements and politicians. At stake is whether the concept could be mobilized to the extent that it can produce actions that transforms unequal urbanization patterns.


The Right to the City is contested because on the one hand, it can form part of be a liberal-democratic framework focused on rights in relation to liberties, or, on the other hand enduring legal protection and rationale for the those who don’t enjoy full rights and opt to engage in urban political struggles to achieve those rights (Purcell 2013). Moreover, that very struggle is part of the realization of the right to the city as a collective right. Put differently, the progressive interpretation of the right to the city does not accept the liberal proposition that when a legal right is “granted”, political actions come to a close (Purcell, 2013: 142). The substantive reading draws on the original formulation by Lefebvre, where the Right to the City is seen as an active and ongoing event to transform the actual existing city, opening up possibilities for active involvement in the participatory production of new urban landscapes, institutions, and social relations (Harvey, 2008; Lefebvre, 1996; Purcell, 2013; Schimd, 2012). The Right to the City is closely connected with broader conceptions of citizenship, to which we now turn in further expanding our conception of urban justice.


7.3 Who is the Citizen? Membership and its Instabilities


We can think of citizenship as an incompletely theorized contract between the rights-bearing individual and her state. It is in this incompleteness of citizenship that lies the possibility for its long and mutating life. There is room for making and remaking “the” citizen: and this includes making by those who do not belong – whether the foreigner outside or the foreigner inside a country.


Historically, outsiders have been a key factor for ensuring this incompleteness of citizenship. They are the ones who have subjected the institution to new types of claims across time and place, whether it is non-property owners in England’s 1800s claiming rights to citizenship or gays and lesbians in 2000 claiming the same rights as other citizens. Women, minoritized citizens, asylum seekers, immigrants, all have contributed to expand the rights of all citizens in often multi-generational trajectories. They may not have gained much power in this process, but their powerlessness became complex – they made a history, a politics.


Making by the powerless has a very different temporality from that of making by the powerful. It can take decades and even centuries, but in the long run of history the powerless are always the majority. And when their demands for expanded inclusions succeeded, they strengthened the institution of citizenship partly by making it more complex and incomplete, a mix that enables adjustments in the meaning of membership across diverse historical epochs and their specific modes of making the spaces for belonging.


Today the meaning itself of the national state and national membership are becoming unstable, and either neutralize nationhood or distort it into a visceral pre-political passion. Over the last few decades, we have seen the emergence of a larger operational space for human mobilities that cuts across all sorts of borders and tends to reposition experiences of membership away from the national container. Experiences of membership shit to other types of entities. These include transnational oppositional politics – of identity, sexual preferences, feminisms, environmental, liberation struggles, and many more. Cities, not nation-states, are often the spaces where these counter-politics instantiate. We also see this ascendance of cities in the formation of new types of geographies of power that cut across old divides – North/South, East/West – and across interstate borders of all sorts and materialize in a sequence of major cities. One enabling tool for these new types of geographies of privilege is the proliferation of specialized visas enabling firms to hire what are de facto immigrant workers but are pointedly referred to as “foreign professionals”.[23] The powerless are also creating such new geographies that cut across borders and are shaped through very specific routings and instruments: we can think of refugees, certain types of small-traders, cultural circuits, and more. Again, cities are critical anchors in these geographies. (See Sassen 2011; 2017).


Increasingly, for today’s mobile global class of the very rich, citizenship or formal state-authorized membership has diminished meaning – they do not need it to gain access to foreign national territories. In contrast, for the dispossessed, citizenship can be a critical tool for survival, though it rarely delivers. Citizens are losing rights in Western neoliberalized countries and economic corporate actors are gaining rights (Sassen 2008: chapter 6). Ironically, it is the claims by those who have barely been recognized in law – a broad mix of minoritized subjects, including immigrants and refugees – that have given new life to the meaning of citizenship. And historically Europe, especially, has shown us how the claims by outsiders for access to hospitals, schools, transport and more, contributed to strengthen the publicness of such facilities, thereby also benefitting citizens. But these victories are today under major attack in just about all Western countries. One question this raises is whether the current influx of refugees and migrants might serve once again to expand the meaning of citizenship by adding elements. We have already seen this in the case of same-sex marriage, cross-caste or cross tribal marriage, etc.


This possibility of expanding the meaning of citizenship is to a large extent enabled by urban conditions. Cities function as a kind of natural experiment enabling new mixes of meanings, and the unsettlement of older convictions strengthen the publicness of major facilities in the long run (even if not immediately). The interesting historically strategic role of “the foreigner” – especially the disadvantaged poor immigrant and asylum seeker – is to generate claims for an expanding domain of the public good because it is their space for survival. The growing numbers of citizens who are losing ground given the new politics of “austerity” can also benefit from these claims by the outsiders, because they are becoming outsiders in their own countries.


Can we learn something from this European history of multiple micro-integrations alongside often murderous hatred of the outsider? It is a fact that the immigrant groups of the past are today reasonably well absorbed, notwithstanding their differences. They have given us many of today’s citizens. They are not at issue in today’s debates. But in their time, they were the issue.


Anti-immigrant sentiment and attacks happened in each of the major
immigration phases in all European countries (Sassen 1999). No labour-receiving country managed to avoid such hatreds of the foreigner, even when the foreigner was the same phenotype, religion or culture as the native – in short, even when the outsider was basically your cousin. No European country has a spotless record – not Switzerland, with its long admirable history of international neutrality and not even France, one of the countries more open to immigrants, refugees and exiles. French workers killed Italian workers in the salt mines in the 1800s and objected to German and Belgian workers hired for Haussmann’s rebuilding of Paris, in both cases invoking that they were the wrong types of Catholics.


History and demography suggest that those fighting for incorporation in the long run won, even though only partly. The “wrong Catholic” of yesterday’s Europe still lives on dressed in a variety of new identities: in many ways the “wrong Catholic” is today the newly arrived Muslim. But what the past does tell us is that we fool ourselves if we think that differences of phenotype, religion and culture are the issue, and that these are obstacles built in stone and hence insurmountable.


Migration hinges on a move between two worlds, even if within a single region or country – such as East Germans moving to West Germany who were seen as a different ethnic group and one with undesirable traits. Misplaced fear and prejudice are key players and so is today’s European “austerity” politics, one that benefits the rich corporate sector and hurts the middle and working classes, who then see in the foreigner yet another threat. Social membership takes time, and struggle. But it can eventually feed into more formal meanings of membership. At its best, our diversities, our foreign-ness, feed into dynamics that value this complexity of membership and its inevitable incompleteness.


It is with this long historical perspective in mind that we believe it is important to combine the normative horizon of urban justice as struggled for through discourses such as the Right to the City, and everyday practices of space-making by ordinary citizens as the struggle to retain a foothold in the city. We therefore move on to a series of “modest interventions” from around the world that are specifically emblematic of agency of highly exploited and marginalized social groups in the city. These vignettes are also serve as a bridge to the final chapter that explore more practical multi-scalar recommendations to advance social progress in the city during the 21st Century.


7.4 Modest Interventions Also Matter: Initiatives Supporting Women


Here we present a series of very modest interventions aimed at enabling women. There are many more such interventions across the world. But they are still not enough. A significant difference could be achieved towards a more just city if these kinds of interventions are multiplied across the cities of the world.


7.4.1 Foreign domestic worker rights, Hong Kong


Hong Kong relies heavily on migrants to meet the demands of the local labor market. In 2012, some 230,000 foreign women—mostly Filipino, Thai, and Indonesian—worked in the city as live-in cooks, nannies, and maids (Stanton 2012). Under Hong Kong’s immigration law, foreign domestic workers (FDWs) are bound exclusively to their employers by two-year contracts. The contracts require FDWs to live in their employer’s home, and should they be fired, they have just two weeks to find new employment or be deported (Hong Kong Immigration Department, 2012). The ever-present threat of deportation is a significant constraint on FDWs’ ability to report abuse or mistreatment, and many employers take advantage. Indeed, of Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong, 42 percent were paid less than they agreed on with their employers (Varia 2007). In 2001, more than 25 percent of FDWs reported verbal or physical abuse, with a high prevalence of sexual abuse (Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor 2001).


The Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge was founded in 1986 to help migrant women in need, especially those fired by their employers or who have fled their abuse. The refuge’s goal, beyond freeing women from unsafe or abusive working conditions, is to develop their ability to advocate for themselves— both in society and in a court of law. The refuge provides legal aid and arranges for FDWs to observe legal proceedings so that they can become familiar with the process and empower themselves as self-advocates. Some former FDWs use the skills and knowledge they gained through the Bethune House to advocates for other migrant workers (Santon 2012).


7.4.2 Female Youth Employment Initiative, Afghanistan


Afghanistan has been racked by more than three decades of war, and the damage to its human capital, especially of women and girls, has been devastating. In 2006, the United States Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization estimated that the literacy rate among adolescents ages 15–24 was at most 20 percent (World Bank 2009). During the Taliban’s rule (1996–2001), women were excluded from the education system, and literacy for rural women fell to as low as 10 percent. In 2007, six years after the fall of the Taliban, women made up less than a third of students in school (World Bank 2009). With the U.S. military’s withdrawal on the horizon, along with the rollback of international aid, Afghanistan needs to maximize its human capital to integrate into the global economy.


To help tackle this challenge, the World Bank, the Nike Foundation, and the Government of Denmark have partnered to fund the Afghanistan Female Youth Employment Initiative. The pilot program, launched in 2009, targets women ages 15–27 living in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh Province, and seeks to equip them with nontraditional skills so that they can participate in export opportunities made possible by the city’s proximity to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan (World Bank 2009). Urban Afghanistan has received disproportionately little aid money for education; the pilot seeks to redress this imbalance and give Afghan women not just education but also marketable skills. As of 2012, the pilot project had created opportunities for some 1,300 young women to receive education and occupational training from private nongovernmental organizations in Afghanistan (Afghanistan Ministry of Education, nd).


7.4.3 Childcare for factory workers, Bangladesh


Bangladesh’s booming export economy is built in part on the backs of working women. Discounting associated industries, garment factories produce 10 percent of the country’s GDP and employ 3 million workers, 80 percent of them women (German and Pyne 2010). Each year, roughly 500,000 Bangladeshis migrate from the countryside to Dhaka, the capital, to find work (Akter 2010). And even if they find work, their struggles are far from over. In 2010, 67 percent of people living in Mohammadpur slum, one of the city’s oldest and largest, earned less than 5,000 taka a month (roughly $60). The average household spent 3,232 taka a month on food and 933 taka a month on rent (Akter 2010). These low wages and high expenses make it nearly impossible for mothers to stay home with their children, even in families where fathers are the primary wage earners. Children are often left unattended in dangerous conditions while their mothers work to support the family. If possible, older children stay home to care for their younger siblings—but at the expense of their education (Phulki 2012). In any case, poor women struggle to care for themselves and their families as they integrate into the urban workforce.


Many humanitarian and international organizations have provided significant aid to Bangladesh. The nongovernmental organization Phulki, however, identified a key problem—breastfeeding is all but impossible for mothers working in factories (Phulki 2012). Options available to working women in the developed world, such as expelling milk throughout the day and storing it in sterile, refrigerated containers, is not possible due to a lack of infrastructure and education. Given Bangladesh’s high food insecurity and malnutrition, the discomfort that lactating women experience when they cannot discharge their milk, and breastfeeding’s many health benefits for both mothers and children, solving that problem alone would have been extremely valuable. But Phulki’s solution has grown to address other struggles that working migrant mothers face. Working directly with factory owners and employees, Phulki established factory-based daycare centers for children ages six weeks to two years. The organization establishes the centers, provides start-up support, and then turns their management over to factory owners. Factory employees gain access to affordable childcare and can breastfeed nursing children (Phulki 2012). Moreover, many of the factory owners take advantage of their relationship with Phulki to offer adult education classes on topics like family planning, literacy, and nutrition (Global Fund for Women 2003). Over 20 such factory-based childcare centers have been established.


7.4.4 Juntos program: conditional cash transfers targeting women in Peru


Poverty in Latin America remains highly influenced by gender. But inequality is not static across the region. As many countries narrowed their wage, poverty, and education gaps, Peru fell behind. Despite a constitution that provides for equal rights, women hold only about 25 percent of land titles (SIGI 2012). Also, the legal tradition of “informal ownership” allows husbands to sell their wives’ property without permission, women earn about 46 percent less than men, and 38 percent of women report being victims of domestic violence (SIGI 2012).


Juntos, a conditional cash transfer government aid program established in 2005, has made significant headway not only in reducing family poverty and malnutrition but also in empowering women. Like other conditional cash transfer programs, Juntos pays needy families a small monthly stipend (about $33) in exchange for participating in health and education programs and obtaining government identification documents (Holmes, et al. 2012). Mothers of eligible families (women with children younger than 14 or pregnant women) are paid directly. Women who receive these payments are required to attend weekly training sessions that focus on basic reading and writing and are introduced to other programs that focus on empowerment, equality, and legal aid (Holmes, et al. 2012). A primary goal of these time-consuming training sessions is to hold Peruvian men responsible for household work and to change their attitudes toward the gendered division of labor. Women in the program have reported some success in this endeavor, with both men and women reporting that changes were taking hold. According to one man interviewed, “Before only men were the boss...Now it is different, we are changing ... Previously, my wife did what I said, she didn’t give her opinion. Now she does, one can tell, and we reach a solution. Women’s opinions were less important. Now she gives her opinion regarding how to progress in life” (Holmes, et al. 2012: 4). Women also saying “We now have reached an agreement, we go alone to the bank. [Previously] men did not understand, they got annoyed even when we attended meetings. We were afraid and even had to miss meetings” and that “Out of jealousy, sometimes they asked us ‘why do you go? You leave your house unattended’ ... Now they don’t” (Holmes, et al. 2012: 4). Juntos, with its strong impact on gender relations in Peru, are creating more links for women to integrate themselves into mainstream society, advancing greater gender equity.


7.4.5 Mother Centers International Network for Empowerment


The Mother Centers International Network for Empowerment grew out of social research conducted by the German Youth Institute in Munich in the early 1980s (Jaeckel, Laux, and Bryant 2002). Staff members discovered that preventative policies that enabled families to access community assets were much more effective than intervening after families fail (MINE 2012). To facilitate this, they opened family-oriented, grassroots community centers (Mother Centers) to recreate family and community networks that had been damaged by socioeconomic dislocation. The main tenet of the organization is participation: everyone has something to contribute to the community, and the centers exist to facilitate that interaction (Laux and Kolinska, 2004: 5). Many social service providers project the message that individuals seeking help have some kind of deficit (“You have a problem. Come to us, the experts, for help”), but at Mother Centers, everyone is a participant and a contributor, and the message is that they are needed (“You are good at at least one thing. Come to the Mother Center and contribute to the community”) (Laux and Kolinska, 2004).


            The fall of totalitarian governments in Eastern Europe created a huge demand for community infrastructure and social services that had disappeared in a sea of unemployment, violence, upheaval, and decay. Mothers at home with children faced severe isolation—not just from goods and services but also from human contact and social networks. The Mother Center initiative spread quickly through peer visits and exchanges in the post-socialist world (MINE 2012) and helped restore the contact points that are the foundation of coherent society.


The Mother Centers movement has continued to expand though grassroots peer exchanges and individual initiative. Today, there are more than 850 centers worldwide (not only in the United States, Germany, and the former socialist regimes of the European Union but also in countries like Rwanda and Cameroon) (Laux and Kolinska, 2004: 7). The centers are self-managed public spaces in neighborhoods that offer peer networks and drop-in childcare, facilitate access to community and employment resources, and expand children’s positive social space. They revolve around a drop-in coffee shop or other shared space where childcare is provided. And they offer adult education classes and services, such as hair cutting, secondhand shops, sewing classes, computer training, and job retraining. When possible, women are paid hourly for services, providing them with much-needed income and a sense of ownership and empowerment (MINE 2012). Centers usually reach between 50 and 1,000 families per neighborhood. They supplement the usual social safety net—and in some cases replace it (Jaeckel, Laux, and Bryant 2002).


7.4.6 Resistance struggles around urban renewal


In many cities of the world municipalities are aggressively promoting “urban renewal” or “urban transformation” policies are pursued to attract foreign direct investment and enhance real estate markets. However, to effect these ambitions, many municipalities conduct urban clearance of neighborhoods that fall within the catchment of the renewal efforts, often postindustrial zones that are popular with underground constitutions and long-standing working class occupants. Of course, these neighborhoods have diverse geographical conditions, social structures, community identities, and different levels of suffering due to the unique form that these processes tale in various cities. However, two processes and resistance to them in Istanbul are instructive.

  • Ayazma is a strongly ethnically diverse neighborhood (and, again, the effect of forced migration), situated near the Olympic Stadium, which was constructed in 2001. Almost all inhabitants were forced to leave the area since the municipality began destroying houses on 1 February 2007. Nearly 880 houses have been destroyed in the neighborhood, which had originally been established in 1980. 650 families were forced to move to another housing project, built by TOKÌ, called Bezirganbahçe, but which was affordable. Some families moved back to their homelands, some returned to their relatives in Istanbul, while others tried to survive in the tents in Ayazma. 
  • In contrast, Gülsüyü - Gülensu neighborhoods located on the east side of Istanbul, is arguably a successful example of resistance against the plans of a local municipality. Also a former gecekondu area, the district was included in an urban transformation projects list by the municipality. Until the inhabitants received an official letter from the municipality, they were not aware of anything. Once they received the letter, the inhabitants collected 7,000 signatures and brought thirty-two court cases to say “no” to urban transformation. Furthermore, the inhabitants established the Gülsüyü-Gülensu Neighborhood Association along with the Platform of Istanbul Neighborhoods Association (neighborhoods that are under threat of state-led urban transformation). Many of these migrant families moved to Istanbul in the 1970s and the recent generation is strongly united as a leftist political community. The urban transformations did not go ahead.  7.4.7 Public Space and Urban Justice Movements

A more visible form of resistance – occupying public parks – have also become more frequent in various cities around the world. It is of course one example of a larger repertoire of direction action targeting authoritarian local regimes and the larger capitalist logics they are ensnared in. David Harvey (2012: 7) provide important insights by referring to Lefebvre’s “revolutionary moment” in his recent book: “…reinventing the city inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power over the processes of urbanization.” Harvey continues in direct reference to urban centres that: “…there is an impulse towards and longing for its restoration which arises again to produce far-reaching political effects.” Thus, visible collective actions in urban space create its own heterotopic urban space, which is the moment when the public performs a re-dwelling; re-claim urban space as a collective despite their differences.


            This was evident in the case of Gezi Park in Istanbul, which exemplifies a new urban space of conflict where the collective power exercises its action and re-forms the meaning, commoning of the space against urbanization. The heterogeneity of the public, types of passive resistance against police force, and the common consciousness of claiming everyday life via occupying the park against neoliberalism has a lot of similarities with some other urban movements such as the K21 (Stuttgart 21) protest, or continuing anti-nuclear protest after the tsunami in a park in Tokyo. The striking experience of Istanbul is that with the spontaneous “coming together” in Gezi Park, other local movements in neighborhoods across were articulated and provisionally cohered. For example, the anti-nuclear protests of Turkey, protests by the Istanbul Chamber of Architects, Istanbul Chamber of Urban Planners against urban destruction, and centralized upside down projects such as 3.Bridge for Istanbul, Taksim Square construction and other related movements. Gezi Park symbolized a call to the authorities for a more participatory grassroots urban decision-making approach, institutionalization of the space as a form of radical democracy. It also became an affective space for the radical formation of citizenship. Once could read increasing conflict urbanism, or urban uprising as flickering hopes against neoliberal urbanization, and therefore a moment of “irruption” where a heterogenous public appears spontaneously. Thus, echoing Lefebvre, the possibilities and power of collective action represent a desire to create something radically different. With the benefit of hindsight, one can conclude that the Gezi event constituted an example of the right to the city discourse as modalities of “commoning”, which appeared as a specific “general intellect” that politicized numerous other and fresh demand for rights across the multiple social levels of Turkey. Gezi was clearly also part of a growing network of trans-local solidarities between cities and countries that is shaping resistance and public demands of a nascent global movement.


            In light of this normative exploration of the barriers to urban justice and the potentiality of a right to the city aspirational narrative, we now want to shift in register and lay down more concrete recommendations for how cities can become the harbingers of social progress.


8. Recommendations


There are a number of challenges that must be confronted by urban governments that extents well beyond the narrow ambit of providing core municipal services such as water, sanitation, energy, transport, primary health care and so on. Many urban governments remain profoundly constrained by narrow-minded legislative frameworks that treat the different levels/tiers of the state as fundamentally hierarchical and subject to the ultimate authority of national governments. However, before one considers the range of complex challenges confronting cities, it is important to make two broader points related to path dependency of infrastructural systems embedded in particular land-uses and the pernicious problem of institutional inertia.


            Cities are assemblages of layers and layers of continuous investment in the built fabric (infrastructures, buildings and common spaces) of the city in relation to the consolidation of value expressed in land markets, and ideally, the materialization of citizenship and the commons. Although, evidence is clear that the latter imperatives have increasingly been eclipsed by the incessant desire for private value expansion. There is a profound temporal momentum to these processes: At any given moment, deliberate urban intervention has to contend with the aggregate value and path-dependent directionality that has been consolidated over decades and centuries. In any given fiscal year, the resources available to a public authority will be miniscule in comparison to the aggregated value of the built environment and the logics that drive its relentless reproduction—real estate markets and associated interests. In other words, even with the most radical or progressive intensions, the scope for shifting the machinic dynamics (Amin and Thrift 2002) of the city is highly circumscribed.


            This directional force is compounded by the problem of institutional inertia. Irrespective of the political system, public bureaucracies are marked by an innate tendency to reproduce what it can understand and control, and neutralize everything else beyond its purview or influence. Put differently, ensuring stability, predictability and continuity, is instinctive for public institutions—at the core of governmentality. In order to deploy these institutions to address issues beyond its own rationality and reasoning capacity, requires extraordinary leadership, sustained external pressure and deep cultural work across all domains of a society. By definition, many of the new challenges confronting the city, requires institutional understandings and responses that goes against the grain and rationality of modern governments that thrive on sectoral specialization, control and fragmentation.


            For example, the ecological crisis that stalks economic viability and social cohesion has brought to the fore the profound interdependency of natural and social systems and just how inadequate the Westphalian system of sovereignty, linked to hierarchical Weberian bureaucracies, are to deal with multi-dimensional and complex urban problems. One response to this institutional crisis has been to promote greater supra-national and sub-national regionalism. It is within this shift of territorial focus (or re-scaling) that the role of city governments is being promoted as the only viable institutional and political response to increased and unpredictable risks (a la Beck). A notable example is the C40 Coalition of urban governments that insist that cities will take the lead in figuring out more effective policy responses to questions of climate change adaptation and mitigation whilst the international system nation states fiddle.[24] This is an important and significant political-institutional movement but one has to question whether a more nuanced reflection might be lost along the way.


            There is clearly a need to establish a much more refined understanding of the spatiality of the economy, labor, consumption, infrastructure and power as the global economy continues to convulse in the face of more rapid boom and bust cycles, and shifting centers of gravity in value creation and concentration. For example, with technological and cultural changes there is more scope that ever to actively promote very small polities at the neighborhood scale that can operate almost autonomously in terms of food production, energy generation, water management, recreation and leisure, whilst at the same time, there is an urgent need to regionalize the planning and management of key infrastructures to ensure distributional justice and create the administrative basis calibrating consumption patterns in step with ecological catchments and cycles. However, where reasonably strong local governments do exist their jurisdictional authority cannot accommodate the neighborhood and they actively resist regional coordinated or integration, undercutting the possibility of sustainable and just urban governance. We should also keep in mind that in large swathes of Africa, the Middle-East and Asia, there is no substantive local governments to speak of. Democratic decentralization remains a deferred political dream. Keeping these dynamics in mind, we now draw the chapter to a close by reflecting on a number of fields of action.


8.1 The Right to City rests on Social and Environmental Justice


Urban space is currently structured to ensure optimum extraction of economic value for elites and business owners who dominate the ownership of private companies and real estate. Often urban governments act against their own populations to guarantee these class interests. This constitutes a violation of universal human rights and precious environmental resources. The international policy discussions that have circulated around the formulation of the seventeen SDGs for 2030, the Paris Agreement and the forthcoming New Urban Agenda all recognize that the current modalities of capital accumulation and discounting of social and environmental externalities are untenable (GCEC 2014). Since urban areas account for eighty percent of economic value generated (in GDP terms) and a similar amount of greenhouse gas emissions and resource exploitation, it is crucial that cities be rethought and reorganized in order to address the interlocked crises of economic development, employment, environmental destruction and growing social divides and prejudices.


            Considering the scale and complexity of the challenge, it is essential to put the wellbeing and rights of city dwellers at the core of this transformation agenda. The international groundswell to project and realize the right to the city provides the most promising entry point to build a shared vision of prosperity that is both inclusive and just. Ideally, all cities and towns should adopt their own unique Right to the City Charter that is democratically agreed upon at the local level as the normative and legal basis for the implementation of global agreements such as the SDGs, the climate agenda and of course the New Urban Agenda. The promising experiments underway in European cities and across various Latin American countries provide important references points for comparative research, exchange and learning.


8.2 Spatial Justice


One of the complexities associated with a rights-based approach to social progress in cities is that often rights can be in competition and the interests of the most marginal can suffer as a result. It is for this reason that spatial justice should be prioritized for the foreseeable future to ensure that the unjust reproduction of urban space is directly and legally confronted. Spatial justice insists that historically ingrained patterns of land-use development and investment that over-invest in some areas at the expense of areas where the poor live are halted and systematically reversed in favour of a more inclusive land-use and planning approach. This also requires legal mechanisms to secure the power of collective and common use over private use rights as established in law in Brazil and various other Latin American countries. This can arrest speculative and wasteful investment policies, and also allow public authorities to maximize the returns on collective investments in infrastructure, public space and green open space systems that are essential for public health and continuity across different kinds of land-use across the city. Once the binding constraint of urban space is removed it becomes easier to advance social progress in other domains of urban life.


8.3 Well-being and dignity


The absence of tenure security is often a reason why public authorities do not provide access to infrastructure and services to urban populations who live in makeshift and peripheral settlements. Thus, the focus on spatial justice need to be connected to related socio-economic rights to housing, water, sanitation and safe energy. In view of the extreme deprivations experienced in especially poorer cities, it is imperative that urban governments guarantee access to a minimum level of services irrespective of income or status. This means that even migrant, refugee and other iterant groups qualify for access. There is enough evidence from various world regions that such measures can be financed through intergovernmental transfers and intra-urban redistribution to ensure that the employed population covers the cost of universal access for everyone. This is appropriate and fair because it will lead to the overall wellbeing and productivity of the entire urban economy and restore vital ecosystem services that everyone depends on. For example, if peripheral communities do not have to rely on scavenging for wood, ecosystems can be regenerated. Universal access to basic services will also reduce the insecurity that stalks popular neighborhoods and contribute to the overall sense of stability and safety in the city, which is good for more intense social interaction and solidarity.


8.4 Democratic control of lifeworlds[25]


The provision of a minimum level of basic services will require some form of contribution from the residents of poor and peripheral neighborhoods. If a household cannot make a monetary contribution towards the provision of essential municipal services, it is foreseeable that these households contribute in other forms, especially labor. There are many ways in which services can be provided and poorer cities need to be encouraged to adopt labor intensive methods and exploit the opportunities offered by low-cost technology systems to also advance environmentally friendly approached to infrastructure deployment. For example, micro energy grids that rely on renewable energy sources that can be combined with mobile phone convenience, creating scope for micro social enterprises rooted in these communities. These enterprises can be enrolled to perform essential repair and maintenance services and ensure that access and utilization is optimized through ongoing community awareness programs. In fact, it is possible to think of these socio-technical interfaces with neighborhood level infrastructure systems and organizational formats as the core of urban citizenship that produces full inclusion and access to a larger canvass about the political economy of the city as whole. We return to this point when we discuss recommendations pertaining to the institutionalization of radical democracy.


8.5 Economic Inclusion and Infrastructural Resilience[26]


In a vital body of work, Swilling and Annecke (2012) suggest that progressive urbanists can build broad-based coalitions for radical urban transformation around two social justice benchmarks: CO2 emissions per capita and resource consumption per capita. Their argument works with the scientific consensus established through the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which recommends that total carbon emissions per capita per annum should average 2.2 tonnes. This would be just and equal allocation. The protracted negotiations of the IPCC that seeks to restrict overall temperature increases to below 2 degrees Celsius translates into this measurement. Since it is possible to disaggregate the proportional contributions of countries, cities, and within cities and different income groups, the argument that a per capita envelop of 2.2 tonnes per capita per annum holds the potential to be a powerful rallying call for environmental social justice (Swilling 2006).


            In a related vein, Swilling and Annecke (2012) also argue for working with the analysis and recommendations of the International Resource Panel (IRP) established by UNEP,  and who are concerned with the level of materials and resource consumption associated with economic growth. The IRP follows a similar methodology as the IPCC, and arrived at the conclusion that a sustainable and equitable global metabolic rate would depend on contracting material extraction to an average of 6 tonnes per capita per annum (Fischer-Kowalski and Swilling 2011). Unsurprisingly, rich countries and wealthy classes dramatically overshoot this level of consumption.


            These two metrics potentially open up a politicised discussion about the tensions between continued unsustainable economic growth, ensuring access to basic services for all and taking the necessary political/policy decisions to reduce carbon emissions and resource consumption per unit of economic output. Given the technocratic nature of these indicators there is a sound basis to get large firms and corporations to engage in these debates as an extension of their professed commitments to good corporate citizenship, as ensconced in various globalised “ethical business” standards, including life-cycle accounting.[27]


            Figure 12 isolates the different structural elements of a broader analysis about how to change the “carbon intensity” and “resource efficiency” of a given city. These factors are determined by the aggregate resource consumption of the city, which in turn is shaped by the types of infrastructure and how resource intensive or efficient it is in conducting urban flows. The nature of land-uses and associated markets (formal and informal), mobility systems and relative densities drive the form of the urban system as explored below. Thus, if a given coalition of urban actors latches on to blunt proxy indicators of resource efficiency and carbon envelop per capita, it potentially creates a broad-based platform on which to make specific claims about how urban infrastructure systems, land-use provisions and planning regulations need to be changed to systematically move a given city into a more just and equitable future position.


            Furthermore, such a perspective is also consistent with an aggressive argument for a transition to a green economy that is: resource efficient, low carbon, economically and socially inclusive and spatially just. This definition of the green economy extends the approach promoted by UNEP in their influential green economy report of 2011 (UNEP 2011). But, by adding the spatial dimension to their framing, it becomes possible to connect the mediating role of socio-technical systems (i.e. infrastructure networks) to the broader concerns with the substance and flows of the economy. The literature on dematerialisation or decarbonising the economy is often apolitical, aspatial and mainly focussed on technological innovations coupled with incentive systems promoted through public policy and regulatory reform. The spatiality of resource flows, emissions and social inclusion is what effectively politicises the green economy discourse. Unfortunately this broader perspective is usually lost in the claim-making politics of progressive actors who tend to focus on a sector (e.g. energy or movement or water), or a specific piece of city at the micro level. There is a crucial imperative to figure out how best to articulate specialist claim-making and resistance with a larger political-policy canvass.


Figure 5.12: Dimensions of Material Reproduction of Territories



Source: Pieterse and Simone, forthcoming


            Urban justice cannot be achieved without addressing the politics of spatial injustice and access to essential services and the commons. Most high income and middle-income cities will have overshot their sustainable endowment of resources consumption per unit of economic output. They will also demonstrate a degree of inequality, which shows that a considerable proportion of the population are well below the average—those living in slum and popular neighborhoods (Swilling 2006). Furthermore, disaggregated analysis of most cities in Africa and Asia reveal that the urban poor endure completely untenable residential densities in precarious settlements whereas the middle classes and elites enjoy overly generous densities that skew the average for the city (Angel 2012). Put differently, spatially blind infrastructure modernisation can worsen class divisions and exclusions in the city even when it is framed as inclusive city development. A more politically astute perspective is called for that can draw explicit connections between the need for infrastructure investment, its resource efficiency, distributional effects and impact on the unsustainable and unjust path-dependency of the operating systems of the city.


            This line of political reasoning opens up every single infrastructural system, land-use plan, associated fiscal instrument and economic investment to close public scrutiny in terms of whether it contributes to aggregate resource efficiency and whether it deals with differential densities in a way that can foster spatial justice for all. It is precisely in such a political arena that the contextualised imperatives and drivers of adaptive urbanism can come to fore and be translated into historicised and spatially-specific claims for socio-technical reforms and the re-regulation of land markets and land-uses. Furthermore, new ICT based tracking applications also equip coalitions with accessible tools to ensure that the politics and contestation around these metrics remain in the public eye and the basis of continuous contestation and debate. For example, the Peta.Jakarta program mobilizes social media to crowd source real time data on flooding in the city, which is also underpinned by a continuous tracking of water flows across the city crossed-referenced to indexes of land ownership. All of this information is then provided as open-source data. Similar mechanisms and information cultures are manifesting in numerous cities across the world (UN-Habitat 2015).


8.6 Spatial Form


The search for a sustainable urban form extends beyond the policy trope of a compact city, and takes into account the variety of urban patterns that already exist in diverse cities, that are to varying degrees marked by planned and unplanned elements. However, it is possible to recast the compact city fetish to incorporate a number of attributes: density, which should be in close relationship with another attribute, continuity. In tandem, density and continuity allows for formal and social integration of the city by connecting its different parts and creating a sequence of dynamic, accessible places that can easily be traversed on foot, non-motorised transport, and connected at a larger scale through public transportation. This is the ideal evoked by Richard Sennet (2006) as the open city.


            However, density and continuity is not enough. A mixture or diverse and overlapping housing types, along with various urban activities are also required. In other words, a rich diversity of residential stock that is embedded in an equally rich grain of shops, small businesses, services, public facilities, and ideally substantial modern non-polluting industries. The street-level interactions should foster a dynamic environment marked by robust interaction and numerous opportunities for encounters among local residents and visiting sojourners. Thus, the street becomes the connective tissue between housing, shops, services, and numerous public facilities such as daycare centers, schools, sports centers, health centers, local libraries, and transportation. It is this intense complex and unfinished mixture that generates the attributes of urbanity or cityness, as well as the formal definition of the city such as temporality (De Solà-Morales, 2008) or the  readability (Bohigas 2004a) of public space and its link with the private realm.


            At the local and larger regional scale of the city this approach calls for a focus on intensity nodes that can fulfill complementary and additive functions within a polycentric framework (Salat 2016). The key to making such a spatial form and set of dynamics work is intensification—which is the result of density, continuity and the mixture of urban activities and housing types. It refers to the number of functions and their characteristics in relation to the qualities of the urban form where these functions take place. In other words, this concept is related to the dynamism, vitality, and diversity at a local level (Jacobs 1961, Sennett 1992) essential for individual and collective life. Given the inherited legacies of urban form and built stock, it also calls for more intensification. This denotes urban transformation in two ways: one, the process of recycling existing urban areas in the city, compacting it by increasing housing density and population, and two, introducing new activities and complementary functions into existing and new ones. This obviously implies land use changes to include or increase social, commercial, and service activities, in the said nodes and/or along streets (Williams, 2004; Burton et al. 2003).


8.7 New Urban Knowledge Systems and Innovation


The agenda for urban transformation is obviously expansive and profoundly complex, and deeply steeped in politics. There are a number of uncertainties and unknowns in terms of how best to reorient urban infrastructural systems, land-use patterns and consumption patterns away from the predominant patterns of exclusion, exploitation and inequality. In the context of a larger set of explorations into the potential and dimensions of a sustainability technological wave (Perez 2013; 2014), it is clear that the economies that gravitate around the built environment and infrastructure networks can offer an important, if not the most significant, leverage to effect the anticipated technological wave. However, this requires explicit research, experimentation, ongoing advocacy and vibrant radical democratic forums and processes. 


            Clarifying how best to transition from the status quo to sustainable operating systems require considerable data, the capacity to analyse it, deliberative forums between technology companies, public sector investors, citizens, diverse interest groups that will be affected, knowledge partners and strategic intermediaries that can create effective communication between these actors and domains. The detailed work of defining the terms, pace and priorities of such urban transitions towards more inclusive and sustainable pathways boils down to defining new ways of investing and managing the urban realm—innovation. This demands radically altering national innovation system that continue to operate on industrial era sectoral obsessions that are disconnected from the space-economy and social justice imperatives of the 21st Century. However, universities are coming to terms with the new imperatives of national and regional innovation systems and can be essential partners in fostering the local innovation systems that must cohere around the development imperatives of city-regions.


            In this sense it is best to define regional innovation systems in relation to city-regions (or smaller scale town-centred agglomerations) that are committed to low-carbon, resource-efficient and inclusive growth paths working in concert to champion to new economic and social vision for the world, from an urban perspective. In this sense, some of hyperbole about Mayors ruling the world and this being an urban century has some validity. Key environmentally sensitive infrastructure systems in the domains of energy, water management, mobility, and ICT accelerate city-based regionalism. These sectors are also the core drivers of the urban (and national) transition to sustainable green economies that are: low carbon, resource efficient, ecologically regenerative and spatially integrated. The trend towards city-based international networks reflects an important institutional forms to engage with and bring within democratic oversight.


            The key point is that if these regionally anchored innovation systems take root and flourish it can dramatically shorten the time-frames of learning, and figuring out policy approaches that work on the ground in the world regions with the greatest need and the least resources to address them.


8.8 Institutionalisation of Radical democracy


There is a real danger that the recommendations and policy perspectives in this section become technocratic jargon. In closing, it is imperative to stress the beginning and end point of an urban agenda for social progress has to be vibrant radical democratic passions and processes.  Despite the enormous variation across world regions and cities, it is possible to offer a few guidelines on how democratic cultures can be nurtured that will be conducive to the formulation and implementation of radical urban reforms as intimated before.


            In the first instance it is essential that the core of democratic local authorities are in place and vibrant, i.e. elected councils are in place to legally mediate competing social interest and demands and hold the executive authority to account. Second, strong local government leadership is in evidence either in the form of executive Mayors (that may or may not be directly elected), working closely with the council and representative bodies of civil society and the private sector. In an era where every urban management decision can have far-reaching long-term consequences, it is essential that political leaders can offer vision and direction on how the tough trade-offs and imperatives will be addressed during her/his term of office. Institutionally, this ought to translate into the adoption of various techniques (that have unique cultural inflections in different regions, countries and cities) identified in Table 2.


Table 5.2: Co-governance instruments at the local level


Building blocks

Potential co-governance mechanisms

1. Strategy and planning:

  • Macro long-term strategic plans, e.g. CDS, Growth Management Strategy, Climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy
  • Spatial development frameworks
  • Medium-term income and expenditure frameworks
  • Local and neighbourhood levels plans, including prescient level plans to promote sustainable human settlements

2. Service delivery innovations:

  • Participatory service delivery planning, budgeting, management and monitoring
  • Joint delivery systems at the local level
  • Public auditing mechanisms to ensure contract compliance and recourse for dissatisfied citizens
  • Digital crowd-sourcing of service delivery problems and bottlenecks to improve responsiveness and effectiveness
  • Digital feedback mechanisms (e.g. sensors) to improve the overall coordination and management of the service
  • Dedicated financial and training resources to boost the capacity of community organisations to fulfil these roles

3. Advocacy and agitation

  • Ensure that formal invited spaces for public consultation and engagement are open for a wide range of civic and private organisations and voices.
  • Ensure legal protection for civic actors to establish their own political and practice spaces that may be critical or oppositional to official deliberative spaces.
  • Ensure legal and moral fealty to the principle of the right to information, a free press and freedom of expression.

4. Social learning mechanisms for innovation

  • Establish and support regional innovation systems that connect green businesses, universities, think-tanks, social movements, public policy entrepreneurs and state-owned enterprises.
  • Promote a culture of innovation labs focussed on critical systemic questions that present obstacles to the medium- and long-term sustainability of the city or town.
  • Promote a culture of public debate through exhibitions and learning fairs that draw in all age groups and foster a shared dialogue about good practice and lifelong learning.
  • Related, but distinct, promote festivals of democratic achievement driven by non-government actors, to promote and celebrate key milestones on the urban transformation journey. These events can build onto established culturally significant rituals and festivals.

Third, there should be an institutional commitment to subject as many aspects of urban management and service delivery to democratic engagement and oversight. In a time of ubiquitous technology and mobile connectivity, even among poor classes, a vast portfolio of participatory techniques and applications are available for adoption to suit local contexts (Friedmann, 2002; Narayan, and Kapoor, 2008; Mitlin, (2008). These are especially important when service delivery models can be differentiated to satisfy diverse income groups’ demands and to accommodate the possibility of community co-production where the residents might not be in a position to pay for user charges. During the 1990s participatory budgeting was emerging as a powerful instrument to facilitate participation, democratise prioritisation and improve service delivery efficiency. Today, these measures are complemented by social auditing techniques that allow citizens to scrutinize and monitor the contracts between municipalities and service providers. And in contexts where social auditing is not allowed, citizens can use various mobile applications that can empower them to lodge complaints, take photographs of poor service delivery and expose bureaucratic neglect. It is particularly young people who are drawn to these forms of citizenship.


            Fourth, it is vital that local authorities and city leaders (mayors and leaders from other sectors) commit to fostering atmospheres of vibrant democratic engagement, social learning and innovation. Local authorities need to be confident in their own identities, premised on clear legal mandates, but also invest in the establishment of strategic deliberative forums to debate long-term imperatives of sustainable urban development alongside participatory techniques to continuously improve service delivery. Furthermore, local authorities need to actively encourage constructive critical opposition by civil society formation that choose to stand apart from formal processes and project their own perspectives and visions into the public domain. Such tolerance enhances political capital and it creates sufficient political diversity for true innovation to emerge.


            The scope and complexity of the demographic, economic, environmental and cultural challenges that impinge on cities demands step-change innovation. This can be induced through intentional research and development laboratories that bring together diverse expertise and interests to produce novel insights and applications. With the recent appreciation of the power and importance of design thinking, many cities across the world are experimenting with these formats. This is an important addition to the practice of creative urban governance. However, design thinking, especially ‘spatial literacy’ has enormous potential to revolutionise the ways in which poor and informal neighbourhoods are routinely planning, upgraded, managed and transformed into fully urban spaces. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to delve into this, but suffice to underscore that it is potentially the linchpin that can connect bottom-up innovations with top-down renovations of urban management and service delivery.




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[1] Affiliations : Columbia University; University of Cape Town


[2] Affiliations : Indian Institute for Humane Studies ; Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences ; National University of Argentina in Córdoba ; Meiji University ; CEPAL ; Mardin Artukli Üniversity ; Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá


[3] Affiliations : N/A


[4] This is a contested narrative in academic circles, but in policy and international development circles, is largely accepted as gospel. See, on the empirical relationship between urban agglomerations and growth Bettencourt, L. and West, G. (2010) “A unified theory of urban living,” Nature, 467: 912–913. For a popular narrative, see Glaeser, E. (2011) Triumph of the City: How our Greatest Invention makes us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier, London: Macmillan. For international policy articulations, see McKinsey (2010) “Lions on the move: The progress and potential of African economies,” McKinsey Global Institute, Available: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/africa/lions_on_the_move [Accessed 5 January 2016] and McKinsey (2012) “Urban World: Cities and the rise of the consuming class,” McKinsey Global Institute, Available:


http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/urbanization/urban_world_cities_and_the_rise_of_the_consuming_class [Accessed 5 January 2016]. For international development agencies, see UN-Habitat (2016) Habitat III: The New Urban Agenda, Available: www.habitat3.org [Accessed 6 January 2016]


[5] For a good and current review of this relationship and its evidence, see Turok, I. (forthcoming 2017) “Urbanisation and Development: Reinforcing the Foundations” in Bhan, Srinivas and Watson (eds) (forthcoming 2017) The Routledge Companion to Planning in Cities of the Global South. Routledge: London.


[6] A paradigm internationalized for decades, in the reconstruction of cities devastated by World War II –via international agencies that financed the development such as the World Bank (IBRD), the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and the United Nations (UN).


[7] This coincides with the appearance of the term Sustainable Development in the Brundtland Report (1987), which was included in Agenda 21, produced in the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and then transferred to the Second Conference of the United Nations on Human Settlements (HABITAT II) ​​held Istanbul in 1996, where its use spread to the discourse on human settlements. Recently, the term Sustainable Urban Development has melded with the term Sustainable Urban Transformations, which refers to the progress, evolution, or modification of the city without affecting the economic, social, physical and environmental issues that guarantee a certain long-term welfare for the population, which implies intelligent urban planning and development. Un-habitat. 2010 State of the World's Cities 2010/2011: Bridging the Urban Divide. Earthscan.


[8] There is a vast literature on this subject, among which Williams, Jenks and Burton 2000, Burgess and Jenks 2002, Burton 2000a, Burton 2000b, Burton 2001, Burton, Jenks and Williams 2003, Burdett and Sudjic 2007, Rogers 2008, Rogers 1999, Lynch 1984, Sennett 2006, Van der Ryn and Calthorpe 1991 Gehl 1989 Gehl 2013, de Solà-Morales 2008a, de Solà-Morales 2013, Bohigas 2003, Bohigas 2004b, 2004a Bohigas, Fudge and Nystrøm 1999, Rowe 1999


[9] For access to all the data and reports, see: http://www.mori-m-foundation.or.jp/english/ius2/gpci2/#press


[10] Gender itself is not a category reducible to women. We understand and note that it equally concerns and impacts transgender people as well as men, and that the category of “woman” itself requires disaggregation into its intersections with race, class, ethnicity, age, sexuality and caste, among others. We are focusing here on using women as a strategic essentialism, to use Gayatri Spivak’s useful phrase, given constraints of space.


[11] Falu, Ana, edit. (2008) Mujeres en la Ciudad, de violencias y derechos. Red Mujer y Hábitat. SUR, Chile. 


[12] Some studies serve as reference for this issue: Aguirre, Rosario (2009) “Uso del tiempo y desigualdades de género en el trabajo no remunerado”, in: Rosario Aguirre (editor) Las bases invisibles del bienestar social. El trabajo no remunerado en Uruguay. INE/ INMUJERES/ UDELAR, FCS, DS/UNIFEM/UNFPA. Montevideo. Batthyany, Karina and Scuro, Lucía “Desafíos de Uruguay y la región” en  Revista de Ciencias Sociales • Departamento de Sociología • Año XXIII / Nº 27 • Diciembre 2010. Uso del tiempo, cuidados y bienestar .  Aguirre, Rosario, “Los cuidados entran en la agenda pública”. Durán, María Ángeles (1999) Los costos invisibles de la enfermedad. Madrid, Fundación BBV.  Falú, Ana (ed. 2002) “Ciudades para Varones y Mujeres. Herramientas para la acción”. Falú, Ana; Morey, Patricia and Rainero, Liliana (ed. 2002) "Uso del tiempo y del espacio: asimetrías de género y de clase" en Ciudad y Vida Cotidiana. Asimetrías en el uso del tiempo y del espacio. Córdoba, Argentina.  Informe Observatorio GENERO CEPAL 2012.



[13] State of the World Cities 2008/2009. Harmonious Cities. UN Habitat, Earthscan, London.Sterling.Va.


[14] Women in Cities International, “Learning from Women to Create Gender Inclusive Cities”, 2009 UN Women, NY. CAFSU (2002). Women’s Safety: From Dependence to Autonomy, Acting Together for Women’s Safety. Montreal http://www.femmesetvilles.org/pdf-general/cafsu_fiches_en.pdf


CISCSA (2006). Tools for the Promotion of Safe Cities from the Gender


Perspective. Argentina http://www.redmujer.org.ar/pdf_publicaciones/art_18.pdf.


[15] The draft New Urban Agenda can be consulted at this URL: https://www.habitat3.org


[16] For instance in one project we have found an acute shortage of applications that might enable the life of low-income workers both at the job and in their neighborhoods  (see, eg Sassen 2012, 2015).


[17] This section draws heavily on: Hyman and Pieterse, forthcoming.


[18] It is estimated that Sub-Saharan Africa spends approximately US$ 10.5 billion per year on low quality, finite, unsustainable resources like kerosene (World Bank, 2011). 


[19]  This includes PV panels, ceiling lights, and charging outlets for mobile phones and a radio.


[20] One highly innovative experience is the Theatrum Mundi Project, leaded by Richard Sennet that interrogates how urban design or urban landscapes could foster cooperation, respect, encounters, and so forth. See www.thetro-mundi.org


[21] Retrieved from http://www.urbanreinventors.net/3/wsf.pdf


[22] Retrieved from http://www.hic-gs.org/content/Mexico_Charter_R2C_2010.pdf


[23] One instance of these high-end bordered spaces are the private financial trading networks that are estimated to account for up to 70% of financial trading worldwide according to the US Federal Reserve Bank, which refers to them as “dark pools in finance. But though digital they depend on massive infrastructures, and these tend to be in cities, close to or in the financial centres; Neither the state nor existing national law plays much of a role in these types of spaces. (Sassen 2014, Chapters 1 and 3)


[24] See this piece just published: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/05/mayors-new-york-paris-rio-climate-action-cities


[25] This concept is drawn from Normal Long (2001: 241) who explains lifeworlds as the: “ “lived-in” and largely “taken-for-granted” social world centring on particular individuals. Such worlds should not be viewed as “cultural backcloths” that frame how individuals act, but instead as a product of an individual’s own constant self-assembling and re-evaluating of relationships and experiences. Lifeworlds embrace actions, interactions and meanings, and are identified with specific socio-geographical spaces and life histories.”


[26] This section draws heavily on: Pieterse and Simone, forthcoming.


[27] It is easy to dismiss the various green washing forums, standards, protocols and policy frameworks of the ethical business movement that come together in the World Business Council of Sustainable Development or like-minded for a of Davos. However, these institutions are important in that they create a set of norms and standards that often lead to the formulation of legal dispensations that regulate the practices of the private sector. One of the topics that are increasingly being driven by international NGOs such as Oxfam and their partners is the issue of tax evasion and tax havens. There can be little doubt that the scope of development investment can be much greater if these resources can be captured more effectively. Defining and institutionalizing new norms with legal effect in these domains are unlikely to come about without the discursive role of the plethora of “ethical business” institutions.


The commenting phase has been concluded. We thank you for your thoughtful comments and responses.