Straddling the Divides: Remaking Associational Life in the Informal African City


Actors in fluid African urban environments endeavor to construct effective means to generate collaborative social action, enforce collective responsibility, and deploy effective and legitimate instruments of power. This effort configures an uneasy tension between the adoption of normative discourses of urban management and governance, and the proliferation of more provisional and informal modalities of association. The article treats informalization as a dynamic process related to new challenges faced by urban citizens in their attempts to access opportunities and, at the same time, maintain social coherence. It explores a broad range of tactics and institutions being used to access livelihood opportunities that more often are now external to the quarter, while maintaining some functional sense of local solidarity.