Start main page content

Informal Politics & Urban Governance

A better understanding of city governance and urban politics is crucial to ensure the voices of poor and politically marginalised groups and individuals are heard by the governments, policies, and projects that affect their environments and daily lives

Disappointments with participatory institutions, the rise of mass urban protests, and increasing exclusion from access to goods and citizenship, show that current urban governance systems are not capable of hearing or responding to the poor. The globalization of neoliberal economic policies, local quests for a balance between growth and redistribution, the fragmentation and depoliticisation of local government systems, the potential disempowering effects of mainstreaming local participation all determine the in/ability of the poor to participate in the making of the city. Over the years CUBES has worked on a number of projects around informal politics and urban governance.

Community ParticipationIn 2015 an edited volume entitled Popular Politics in South African Cities: Unpacking Community Participation, edited by Claire Benit-Gbaffou and containing a number of contributions from CUBES researchers, was published. The book is of relevance for international and national audiences interested in urban governance and local democracy.

In 2013 the Community Activists Tell Their Stories project, which aimed to examine local activism as a driver of urban change, culminated in a report published by CUBES and the NRF Research Chair in Development Planning amd Modelling. The report comprised 13 portraits of community activists in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, and reflected on the difference activists make in their communities, the joys and challenges of community leadership and on the nature of urban change.

See the left hand menu for more information on research reports and publications and the CUBES project on local activists and urban change.