Special Issue: Transcending (in)formal urbanism

Acuto, Michele; Dinardi, Cecilia and Marx, Colin. 2019. Special Issue: Transcending (in)formal urbanism. Urban Studies, 56(3), pp. 475-487. ISSN 0042-0980 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this introduction to the special issue ‘Transcending (in)formal urbanism’ we outline the important place that informal urbanism has acquired in urban theorising, and an agenda to further this standing towards an even more explicit role in defining how we research cities. We note how informality has frequently been perceived as the formal’s ‘other’ implying a necessary ‘othering’ of informality that creates dualisms between formal and informal, a localised informal and a globalising formal, or an informal resistance and a formal neoliberal control, that this special issue seeks to challenge. The introduction, and the issue, aim to prompt a dialogue across a diversity of disciplinary approaches still rarely in communication, with the goal of going beyond (‘transcending’) the othering of informality for the benefit of a more inclusive urban theory contribution. The introduction suggests three related steps that could help with transcending dualisms in the understanding of informality: first, to transcend the disciplinary boundaries that limit informal urbanism to the study of housing or the labour market; second, to transcend the way in which informality is understood as separate from the domain of the formal (processes, institutions, mechanisms); and, third, to transcend the way in which informality is so tightly held in relation to understandings of neoliberalism. Challenging where the confines of urban studies might be, we argue for informality to better serve and broaden the community of urban research towards a more global urban theorising, starting from situated experiences and including cross-disciplinary experimentation.

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informality, interdisciplinarity, theory

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE)


4 October 2018Accepted
8 January 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

03 Feb 2017 10:58

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:54

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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