International Development Planning Review

Extending urban liveability: friendship and sociality in the lives of low-wage migrants

International Development Planning Review (2016), 38, (2), 201–220.

Abstract

‘Liveability’ continues to attract considerable attention internationally, in the media, among urban policymakers and from academics. In this paper, we extend consideration of liveability beyond the elite, professional migrants who are the primary target of inter-urban competition to low-wage migrants in two different urban contexts in Asia. Drawing upon narratives of South Asian men in Dubai and Singapore, we highlight friendship and sociality as vital components of quality of life – in emotional and affective as well as practical or material terms. We highlight investments in spaces, times and technologies of friendship, and also in cultures of welcome and hospitality, as key ways of extending urban liveability. While recognising important critiques of liveability as seemingly irredeemably bound up with neoliberal inter-urban competition, we consider how such competitiveness and the ‘discursive power’ (McCann, 2004) of liveability may be steered towards the making of more welcoming and friendly cities.

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Author details

Bunnell, Tim

Kathiravelu, Laavanya