Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 12
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Smit, Warren 2016. Urban governance and urban food systems in Africa: Examining the linkages. Cities, Vol. 58, p. 80.

    Cozzens, Susan and Sutz, Judith 2014. Innovation in informal settings: reflections and proposals for a research agenda. Innovation and Development, Vol. 4, Issue. 1, p. 5.

    Joshi, Anuradha Prichard, Wilson and Heady, Christopher 2014. Taxing the Informal Economy: The Current State of Knowledge and Agendas for Future Research. The Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 50, Issue. 10, p. 1325.

    Obeng-Odoom, Franklin and Ameyaw, Stephen 2014. A new informal economy in Africa: The case of Ghana. African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development, Vol. 6, Issue. 3, p. 223.

    Titeca, Kristof and Flynn, Rachel 2014. “Hybrid Governance,” Legitimacy, and (Il)legality in the Informal Cross-Border Trade in Panyimur, Northwest Uganda. African Studies Review, Vol. 57, Issue. 01, p. 71.

    Lapeyre, Frederic 2013. Securing Livelihoods in Africa: Towards Multi-scalar Policy Frameworks. The European Journal of Development Research, Vol. 25, Issue. 5, p. 659.

    Nzeadibe, Thaddeus Chidi 2013. Informal Waste Management in Africa: Perspectives and Lessons from Nigerian Garbage Geographies. Geography Compass, Vol. 7, Issue. 10, p. 729.

    Obeng-Odoom, Franklin 2013. The State of African Cities 2010: Governance, inequality and urban land markets. Cities, Vol. 31, p. 425.

    Prag, Ebbe 2013. ASR FORUM: ENGAGING WITH AFRICAN INFORMAL ECONOMIES. African Studies Review, Vol. 56, Issue. 03, p. 101.

    Di Nunzio, Marco 2012. “We Are Good at Surviving”: Street Hustling in Addis Ababa's Inner City. Urban Forum, Vol. 23, Issue. 4, p. 433.

    Nzeadibe, Thaddeus Chidi Anyadike, Raymond N. C. and Njoku-Tony, Roseline F. 2012. A Mixed Methods Approach to Vulnerability and Quality of Life Assessment of Waste Picking in Urban Nigeria. Applied Research in Quality of Life,

    Nzeadibe, Thaddeus Chidi and Anyadike, Raymond N.C. 2012. Social participation in city governance and urban livelihoods: Constraints to the informal recycling economy in Aba, Nigeria. City, Culture and Society, Vol. 3, Issue. 4, p. 313.


Informal Economies and Urban Governance in Nigeria: Popular Empowerment or Political Exclusion?


This article examines how popular organizational strategies and coping mechanisms affect broader trajectories of urban governance in contemporary Africa. Does the proliferation of informal livelihood networks and associations foster economic empowerment and popular political participation, or do these informal processes breed poverty and organizational chaos? This article explores the link between popular organizational strategies and structural outcomes, focusing on how institutional process and power relations shape the access of the poor to resources and decision-making structures in decentralizing urban environments. Case studies from Nigeria trace how liberalization has fragmented informal organizational strategies into networks of accumulation and survival that tend to marginalize the interests of the poor within informal enterprise associations. Distinctive political strategies of informal enterprise associations are analyzed to show why dynamic informal organization is unable to break through the barriers of social and legal marginalization that trap the urban poor in cliental forms of political incorporation. This suggests that “social capital” within the informal economy may fail to improve popular political representation and governance outcomes even in contexts of decentralization.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. Beall 2001. “From Social Networks to Public Action in Urban Governance: Where Does Benefit Accrue?Journal of International Development 13: 1015–21.

M. Davis , 2006. Planet of Slums. New York: Verso Books.

N. Devas 2001. “Does City Governance Matter for the Urban Poor?International Planning Studies 6 (4): 393408.

P. B. Evans 1996. “Government Action, Social Capital and Development: Reviewing the Evidence on Synergy.” World Development 24 (6): 1119–32.

F. Fukuyama 1995. Social Capital and the Global Economy. Foreign Affairs 74 (5): 89103.

M. Granovetter 1983. “The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited.” Sociological Theory 1: 201–33.

H. C. Haan 1999. “MSE Association and Enterprise Promotion in Africa.” In Enterprise, in Africa: Between Poverty and Growth, edited by K. King and S. McGrath , 156–68. London: Intermediate Technology Publications.

E. A. Isichei 1976. A History of the Igbo People. London: Macmillan.

P. Knorringa 1999. “Agra: An Old Cluster Facing New Competition.” World Development 27 (9): 1587–604.

A. M. Larson , and F. Soto . 2008. “Decentralization of Natural Resource Governance Regimes.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources 33: 213–39.

S. M. Martin 1988. Palm Oil and Protest: An Economic History of the Ngwa Region, South-Eastern Nigeria, 1800–1980. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

K. Meagher 2005. “Social Capital or Analytical Liability? Social Networks and African Informal Economies.” Global Networks 5 (3): 217–38.

K. Meagher 2006. “Social Capital, Social Liabilities, and Political Capital: Social Networks and Informal Manufacturing in Nigeria.” African Affairs 105 (421): 553–82.

K. Meagher . 2007b. “Manufacturing Disorder: Liberalization, Informal Enterprise and Economic ‘Ungovernance’ in African Small Firm Clusters.” Development and Change 38 (3): 473503.

D. Mitlin 2001. “The Formal and Informal Worlds of State and Civil Society: What Do They Offer to the Urban Poor?International Planning Studies 6 (4): 377–92.

C. Moser 1996. “The Asset Vulnerability Framework: Reassessing Urban Poverty Reduction Strategies.” World Development 26 (1): 119.

D. C. North 1990. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

C. Rakodi 2001. “Urban Governance and Poverty—Addressing Needs, Asserting Claims: An Editorial Introduction.” International Planning Studies 6 (4): 343–56.

A. Simone , 2004a. For the City Yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

A. Simone . 2004b. “People as Infrastructure: Intersecting Fragments in Johannesburg.” Public Culture 16 (3): 407–29.

J. Tendler 2002. “Small Firms, the Informal Sector and the Devil's Deal.” IDS Bulletin 33 (3): 98104.

L. Villalon 1995. Islamic Society and Stale Power in Senegal: Disciples and Citizens in Fatick. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

J. S. Wunsch , and D. Olowu . 1997. “Regime Transformation from Below: Decentralization, Local Governance, and Democratic Reform in Nigeria.” Studies in Comparative International Development 31 (4): 6682.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *