Studies in Comparative International Development

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 261–280 | Cite as

State, Society, and Informality in Cities of the Global South

  • Adam M. AuerbachEmail author
  • Adrienne LeBas
  • Alison E. Post
  • Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro


Contemporary urbanization in the Global South merits greater attention from scholars of comparative politics. Governance, associational life, and political behavior take distinctive forms in the social and institutional environments created by rapid urbanization, particularly within informal settlements and labor markets. In this special issue, we examine forms of collective action and claims-making in these spaces. We also consider how the state assesses, maps, and responds to the demands of informal sector actors. Tackling questions of citizen and state behavior in these informal urban contexts requires innovative research strategies due to data scarcity and social and institutional complexity. Contributors to this symposium offer novel strategies for addressing these challenges, including the use of informal archives, worksite-based sampling, ethnographic survey design, enforcement process-tracing, and crowd-sourced data.


Cities Urbanization Urban politics Informality Governance Complexity Informal institutions Methods Developing world 



The authors thank Benjamin Allen for research assistance. The authors are also grateful to special issue contributors for numerous insights, and to Leonardo Arriola, David Backer, Ravinder Bhavnani, Karsten Donnay, Shelby Grossman, Alisha Holland, Katerina Linos, Aila Matanock, Jeffrey Paller, Amanda Robinson, and members of the SCID editorial collective for helpful comments.

Funding Information

The authors thank the Institute for International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Schools of International Service and Public Affairs, American University, for providing funding for two workshops focused on this special issue.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam M. Auerbach
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adrienne LeBas
    • 2
  • Alison E. Post
    • 3
  • Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro
    • 4
  1. 1.School of International ServiceAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.School of Public AffairsAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.University of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  4. 4.Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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