Urban politics

Authored by: Danielle Resnick

Routledge Handbook of Democratization in Africa

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138081246
eBook ISBN: 9781315112978
Adobe ISBN:


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Drawing on both empirical cases and recent scholarship, this chapter examines the intersection of Africa’s rapid urbanization with decentralization and democratization trends. While urban areas always have been major sites of contestation in Africa, the growing demographic and economic significance of cities, combined with greater political autonomy for urban governments, underscores the importance of understanding political dynamics in these settings. The inequality that has accompanied urbanization in many places has had implications for democratic engagement, especially among the urban poor, with impacts on voting behavior, protests, and strategies of mobilization by politicians. In turn, African cities have become important areas of electoral support for opposition parties, sometimes resulting in intergovernmental battles over fiscal resources and administrative mandates that negatively influence the provision of urban services. The chapter concludes that the field of urban politics research in Africa could be greatly expanded with rigorous subnational analyses that properly account for institutional and demographic variations across cities.

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