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State effectiveness and the politics of urban development in East Africa: a puzzle of two cities, 2000-2010

Goodfellow, Tom (2012) State effectiveness and the politics of urban development in East Africa: a puzzle of two cities, 2000-2010. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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East African states in the 21st century face the challenge of some of the highest rates of urban growth the world has ever seen. Cities are expanding despite low levels of industrialisation and formal employment, in contexts where states often struggle to fulfil basic functions. This thesis aims to bridge a gap between the literature on cities and urban development and scholarship pertaining to the role of the state in developing countries, to explain why responses to the urban challenge are producing widely diverging outcomes in the region. Through a comparative case study analysis of Kampala, Uganda and Kigali, Rwanda, it analyses why attempts to implement certain urban policies and regulations have been much more effective in the latter than the former. It explores this divergence in relation to four critical aspects of urban transformation: physical development (urban planning and development regulation), livelihoods in the informal economy (with a particular focus on petty trade), urban public transport, and urban local taxation. Most explanations for poor state performance focus on capacity, usually defined as bureaucratic competence. This study argues that this is inadequate, and that state effectiveness is highly dependent on the political context and the incentives for enforcement and compliance affecting state actors and urban social groups respectively. Through a process-tracing analysis drawing on six months of fieldwork, it highlights the importance of the credibility of government commitments, the sources of state legitimacy, the autonomy of different components of the state vis-à-vis social forces, and ingrained social power relations. It argues that these factors affect the degree to which formal state institutions are supported by (rather than conflicting with) informal norms. These state-society dynamics proved far more important than bureaucratic capacity in accounting for divergent state effectiveness with regard to implementing urban policy in the two cities under consideration.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Tom Goodfellow
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Development
Supervisor: Putzel, James

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