One step forward, two steps back? Shifting patterns of participation in a former informal settlement in Mexico City

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Abstract

While advances in participatory planning have led in many cases to the more inclusive rebuilding of informal settlements, the debate regarding participatory planning has focused largely on the improvement of current informal settlements without asking “what next”. Declining living conditions following settlement consolidation, however, provide evidence of the potential shortfalls of temporary participatory approaches. Drawing on an ethnographic case study of a former informal settlement in Iztapalapa, Mexico City, this paper analyses the erosion of resident participation in neighbourhood development over 40 years. Comparisons between residents’ accounts of neighbourhood formation, mostly in the 1980s, and contemporary experiences show a gradual decrease in resident engagement. The data collected in 2016–2017 highlight this diminishing local participation and suggest that the disappearance of earlier local practices of engagement is linked in various ways to the failure of formally supported practices of citizen participation. The paper shows what can be learnt from residents’ memories of transforming informal settlements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-495
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Urbanization
Volume33
Issue number2
Early online date9 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Taru Silvonen is an urban sociologist completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Cardiff University. Her doctoral research in Mexico City examines informal social networks in the context of urban development.

Funding Information:
This research was funded by Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations PhD studentship. This publication was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The support of the ESRC is gratefully acknowledged.

Funding Information:
This research was funded by Coventry University?s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations PhD studentship. This publication was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The support of the ESRC is gratefully acknowledged.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

Keywords

  • informal settlements
  • Mexico City
  • neighbourhood transformation
  • participation
  • resident-led development

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