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Accessing the State

Everyday Practices and Politics in Cities of the South

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Claire Bénit-Gbaffou, Sophie Oldfield

22 September 2011


Township Studies Librarian Two


Township Studies Group

South Africa

This special issue explores everyday practices and politics of accessing the state and state resources from a southern, urban perspective. The collection of papers documents urban low-income residents’ everyday relationships with the state, through the study of actual practices of interaction with a range of state representatives at the local level (councilors and officials, at various levels of local government). Formal and informal, legal and illegal, confrontational and cooperative, the paper analyses the multiple tactics of engagement with the state by low-income residents to understand the extent to which they allow access to state resources and to degrees of state recognition, even in contexts of mass poverty, informality, and scarce public resources. The modes of interaction with the state also embody and frame low-income residents’ representations of the state, of their expectations, and of their own citizenship.

Abstract based directly on the original source


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Built environment


Human settlements

Informal sector

Local government

Poverty & inequality

South Africa

Township Studies Group


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