Marginalised Development and Ad-Hoc Tactics for Growth
Sociological approaches to the concept of marginality highlight the lack of power, participation and integration experienced by a group, or a territory. Such groups are seen as marginal inasmuch as they are excluded from capitalist models of urban development. Latin American debates of the 1960s and 1970s refer to marginal groups in a context of “dramatic urbanisation which was driven mainly by the growth of informal settlements (favelas, barrios, ranchos) and a workforce employed outside the formal established economies”. We seek to move beyond dichotomies such as “inside versus outside”, “marginal versus central”, “formal versus informal” that continue to underpin much current practice. Drawing on Roy’s work, we understand informality “not a separate sector but rather a series of transactions that connect different economies and spaces to one another”. We contribute three empirical case studies to the discourse, aiming to understand the complex and asynchronous trajectories of settlements and homes that lead from informal origins to varying degrees of consolidation, as well as from buildings designed by architects to informalization through adaptations by inhabitants. The three authors visited and surveyed the three case studies between 2014 and 2018. In each case, we conducted semi-structured interviews with inhabitants, and produced measured drawings of homes. From each of the three episodes of field research we selected a single dwelling in order to expose how continual socioeconomic and political struggles of inhabitants are woven into formal and informal modes of urbanization.
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