Claiming the Right to the City: Social movement as a field of contestation

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Submission Summary
Urban development takes place in the context of diversity of actors, power relations, institutional and political factors and multiple conflicting interests among various actors (Tidemand, 2010). In recent years, cities across the globe have experienced the resurgence of various social movements in which cities have increasingly become a field of struggle and contestation around different aspects of the urban life (Domaradzka, 2018) In the space of urban governance and development process, social movements are an essential platform for public participation. Full participation in decision making builds grassroot capacity for governance and promotes the agency of the local communities in offering solutions to their urban challenges (Farha and Perucca, 2020). The discourse of social movements is accompanied with the narrative of participation and struggles capable of delivering the benefits of urban development to the marginalised and deprived groups. Also connected to the senses of struggles and participation is the reality of power dynamics and asymmetrical power relations within the governance space of participation. Thus, an essential question, which guides this paper, is to what extent are social movements delivering cities and urban development’s benefits to the deprived and marginalised communities in the face of power dynamics? The paper argues that: social movement is a field of contestation with inherent conflicts, underlying power relations and different levels of relationships among actors among actors in the struggle for the right to the city. This paper addresses the research question and advances its central argument through literature, policy documents, interviews with civil society and policy actors, and insights from the grassroot mobilisation of the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation (the Federation) in Lagos in response to the consequences of the urban (re)development, which promoted urban commodification, forced eviction, demolition and dispossession. In light of this, this paper investigates the dynamics of power relations in the everyday struggles of the deprived communities within the governance sphere of participation and how the Federation navigates the governance space of participation and the process of articulating injustices and demanding the right to the city in the face of power relations. The paper draws on the theoretical lenses of social movements and right to the city and the analytical perspectives of theory of fields (Bourdieu, 1977; 1993) in combination with Strategic Action Fields (Fligstein and McAdam, 2012). The findings reveal that social movement is an arena of contestation for the marginalised communities against exclusion. The findings also reveal the complexity of relationships in terms of cooperation, competition and conflict - that exist among different actors and vertical relationships between the dominant and the subordinate actors in which different actors strategically contend for privileges and rights (Goldstone, and Useem, 2012) within governance and urban (re)development space.
Submission ID :
ISO440
Submission Type
Submission Track
1: Inclusiveness and empowerment. Al-Majlis: planning with and for communities
School of Architecture and Planning, University of Auckland, New Zealand

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