Project

Between collectivization and enclosure: examining the uneven provision of clean water, waste disposal and public space in rapidly growing cities

Goal: Why do residents in rapidly growing cities succeed or fail to secure amenities required for their health, dignity, and comfort? While engineers might see this as a technical question, this project focuses on the social relations that form through the setting up and governing of amenities for clean water, waste disposal, and public space. The provision of these amenities, of paramount importance to people’s lives and prominent on the policy agendas of governments and development agencies, is patchy and checkered, especially in the rapidly growing cities of the developing world. Charting and explaining the uneven development of amenities is therefore a vital task. The project uses extensive meta-reviews of the literature and detailed case studies of Accra (Ghana) and Istanbul (Turkey) to identify the conditions and mechanisms that explain why some people and places have privileged access to high-quality amenities while other people and places do not. Theoretically, it extends Elias’s figurational sociology by considering how stakeholders organize space in their efforts to solve collective action problems and effectuate in-/exclusion.

Date: 1 January 2018 - 1 January 2022

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Project log

Frederico Roman Ramos
added a research item
This article introduces DUIA, the Database on Urban Inequality and Amenities. DUIA includes data on the socio-economic development and amenities of 86 cities. The database especially covers cities outside the West, providing new opportunities for comparative research in fields suffering from a dearth of data. DUIA addresses three concerns that have not been resolved by other databases on cities. First, we draw upon remote sensing derived data from the Atlas of Urban Expansion to more accurately define city boundaries. Second, we draw upon survey data stored in IPUMS (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series) to include extensive, harmonized, and disaggregated data. Third, we use open source software and share our scripts to ensure transparency and replicability. DUIA includes information on dwelling and household characteristics, educational attainment, ownership of assets and appliances, and access to amenities. We provide illustrative analyses on asset inequality and water access to demonstrate the potential for the database. Although we also identify several limitations, DUIA represents a step forward in the systematic study of inequality and amenities over time and across cities.
Justus Uitermark
added a research item
This article examines the dynamics of fragmentation and integration in Accra’s water infrastructure. Inspired by figurational sociology, we analyze infrastructure as both reflective and constitutive of interdependencies between different class fractions and parts of the urban region. We draw on historical archives, the in‐depth ethnographic study of one suburban neighborhood, a survey of eight additional neighborhoods, and statistics from Ghana’s census to investigate the mechanisms and drivers of infrastructural integration as well as fragmentation. Our analysis shows that, following Ghana’s independence, the piped water network gradually expanded to integrate different class fractions and parts of the urban region. But this process has more recently hit its limits on Accra’s peri‐urban fringe, where the wealthy are disconnecting from the public piped water network and, by implication, from those who still depend on it. The progressive expansion of the pipe network thus grinds to a halt, giving way to a fragmented constellation of water infrastructures.
Justus Uitermark
added a research item
While forms of authority that descend from social or cultural tradition are commonly understood as archaic, traditional authorities often survive and occasionally even thrive during the formation of modern states. Chieftaincies do not only endure in the Ghanaian countryside but also proliferate in new neighbourhoods on the peripheries of Ghana’s fast-growing cities. We develop an explanation for the endurance of traditional authorities, based on extensive fieldwork in one recently developed neighbourhood in a previously uninhabited part of Greater Accra, where we conducted interviews and analysed documents from the archives of the chief’s Divisional Council. We show that the formation of a modern state has restricted the chiefs’ discretion as sovereigns but afforded them greater power as managers of the land and gatekeepers of the state bureaucracy. Traditional authority is not overwritten but rather refined, transformed and stabilized in the process of state formation.
Justus Uitermark
added an update
I’m currently recruiting two PhD candidates and a postdoctoral researcher for this project.
You can find more information here: http://www.justusuitermark.nl/projects/
 
Justus Uitermark
added a project reference
Justus Uitermark
added a project goal
Why do residents in rapidly growing cities succeed or fail to secure amenities required for their health, dignity, and comfort? While engineers might see this as a technical question, this project focuses on the social relations that form through the setting up and governing of amenities for clean water, waste disposal, and public space. The provision of these amenities, of paramount importance to people’s lives and prominent on the policy agendas of governments and development agencies, is patchy and checkered, especially in the rapidly growing cities of the developing world. Charting and explaining the uneven development of amenities is therefore a vital task. The project uses extensive meta-reviews of the literature and detailed case studies of Accra (Ghana) and Istanbul (Turkey) to identify the conditions and mechanisms that explain why some people and places have privileged access to high-quality amenities while other people and places do not. Theoretically, it extends Elias’s figurational sociology by considering how stakeholders organize space in their efforts to solve collective action problems and effectuate in-/exclusion.