International Development Planning Review

Unequal citizenship in unequal cities: participatory urban governance in contemporary South Africa

International Development Planning Review (2017), 39, (1), 15–35.

Abstract

Participatory governance has become a mainstream feature of city management, endorsed by governments and aid agencies as a platform for state-civil society engagement. Despite this popularity, criticisms are rife, focusing on agency problems of implementation alongside fundamental concerns related to structural power asymmetries. However, remarkable in its absence from these debates is the active role played by the urban spatial and temporal structural context in shaping citizenship experiences of participatory processes. Based on fieldwork in an electoral ward of Cape Town, South Africa, a geopolitical space that hosts a wide socio-economic range of citizens, the article demonstrates how the spatial and temporal landscape of the city is not a neutral technical backdrop for participatory processes, but active in creating and perpetuating inequalities that are institutionalised through processes of participatory governance. This ultimately produces a two-tier form of unequal citizenship.

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Lemanski, Charlotte