Urban Inequalities in Developing Democracies

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Program Series:
Co-organizers:  Alison Post (Global Metropolitan Studies and Political Science), Leo Arriola (Political Science)

This research initiative examines the origins and effects of inequality in small and medium-sized cities in the developing world.  Two parallel trends have heightened the importance and prevalence of such inequalities. First, the world is rapidly urbanizing. While megacities have captured the popular and scholarly imagination in recent decades, most of population growth is occurring—and is forecasted to continue to occur—in small and medium-sized cities of the developing world. At the same time, countries throughout the developing world have decentralized administrative responsibilities for services to subnational governments. Following decentralization, city governments often control the production and allocation of critical services such as water and sanitation, as well as regulate the allocation of urban space.  Inequalities in access to land and vital services, in turn, affect patterns of political participation and influence.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the initiative hosted a seminar series that brought together faculty and graduate students from a variety of departments for discussions of works-in-progress, published papers, and presentations by outside speakers.  Sessions were designed to provide a basis for collaborative research projects focusing on urban politics in the developing world that involve faculty and graduate students from different departments on campus.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, the initiative is focused on a single project:

Methodological Innovation in Urban Political Research (April 30 and May 1, 2015)
The last ten years have witnessed an impressive outpouring of political science research examining urban political processes in the developing world. Because urban areas in the developing world are changing very rapidly and local governments have weak state capacity, governments do not fully “see” political and social processes in urban settings.   This has made research on urban political processes a fertile ground for methodological innovation, as scholars at the forefront of this research wave have been forced to develop new types of data collection and analysis.  This workshop will bring together a group of such scholars to document and discuss these contributions, as well as consider their broader implications for the fields of comparative politics and urban studies.  

For further information, contact aepost [at] berkeley.edu.