N-aerus Working Group 1: Informality

This working group will be concerned with the term informality and its dimensions and impacts on urban development and its processes. Emphasis will be put on the aspects of formal and informal mechanisms of city production. With the basic assumption that in urban development there is an ambiguity between formal and informal development patterns, which co-exist, the aim is to elaborate on:

  • Rationale – Defining informality: co-existence of formal/informal processes of urban development.

–      Understanding of informal and formal city productions, their interdependencies and patterns of emergence and development

The dualist perspective of formality and informality and its connotations will be examined and its dichotomous conceptualisation questioned. The focus of analysis is how informality and formality interlink, how informality is formed and is perceived by scholars.

(II) Social-Spatial conditions – Informal arrangements in urban development

  • Reflections on informal urbanisation and its impact on urban processes and transformations in terms of social inclusion

Spontaneous development and improvement processes in so-called ‘informal areas’, including approaches, mechanisms, actors, conflicts and results (spatial patterns, degree of social/spatial inclusion) will be analysed.

(III) Policies – Specific measurements for engaging with informality, its impacts and results on urban development:

  • Understanding of measurements and interventions including motivations, e.g. supportive governance models (mapping/monitoring); ‘Upgrading’ processes in so-called ‘informal areas’, development approaches and mechanisms; Programmes and standards
  • To understand what are the inclusionary or exclusionary social-spatial results and patterns of such measurements (in terms of urban governance, plural urban development patterns, right to the city)

The importance of power relations in governance and the presumed often arbitrariness of state power in the context of urban informality will be analyzed. A starting point would be the assumption that the spectrum of practices from formal to informal have a substantial influence on social inclusiveness and play a significant role in the discussion about governance.

For further information please contact Paola Alfaro d’Alençon and Harry Smith.