Understanding Informality: Conceptual Lessons from Informal Settlement in Southern Africa
Urban Sociology and Urban Studies more broadly have provided an intellectual home for the empirical study and the conceptual development of informality, primarily as it manifests in the sectors of the economy, politics, and housing. Since different definitions of informality betray normative assumptions about informality, these definitions also have implications for social justice. Descriptions of informality in hegemonic discourses that portray informality as separate or decoupled from the formal tend to portray informality as deviant, betraying normative assumptions that the formal ideal should be pursued or protected (Groenewald et al. 2013). Instead of strategies that empower those who resort to informality, these assumptions can lead to strategies to regulate, control or repress informality. This is often to the detriment of marginalised communities.
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