Negotiating Informality, Negotiating Citizenship: How Neighborhood Characteristics Shape Political Behavior in Urban Slums
Nearly one-sixth of humanity live in urban “slums” — neighborhoods that lack access to secure property rights and basic services — and this number is increasing rapidly as developing countries continue to urbanize. Despite their proximity to public servants and public services, slum residents remain largely disconnected from formal institutions. On top of exclusion from government resources, slum residents are also subjected to threats of displacement and financial exploitation from a range of both state and non-state actors. To mitigate these vulnerabilities, residents draw on informal political strategies to negotiate with the state for material improvements. Yet, despite a shared context of poverty and informality, residents of different slums vary considerably in how they engage politically. What explains differences in political behavior across settlements? Drawing on in-depth interviews with over 100 Indian slum residents and leaders, I propose a framework to explain how neighborhood characteristics shape political strategies across slum settlements. I argue slums vary along two key dimensions — access to formal resources (including, for example, property rights and identification documents) and strength of informal political networks — that are crucial for understanding whether and how residents negotiate with the state. I test this framework with original survey data from nearly 10,000 households from over 200 neighborhoods from Bengaluru, Jaipur, and Patna, India. These data comprise some of the most comprehensive data on Indian slums currently available to researchers. The findings not only have important implications for understanding development outcomes, but also for understanding how the urban poor understand and exercise their rights as citizens.
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Emily Rains & Anirudh Krishna. (2020). Published in World Development.
Anirudh Krishna, Emily Rains & Erik Wibbels. (2020). Published in The Journal of Development Studies.
Emily Rains & Anirudh Krishna. (2019). UNU-WIDER Working Paper Series 2019/102.
Emily Rains, Anirudh Krishna & Erik Wibbels. (2018). Published in Environment and Urbanization.
Emily Rains & Ronald Abraham. (2018). Published in Energy Policy.
 Informalities, volatility, and precarious social mobility in urban slums
Emily Rains & Anirudh Krishna. Forthcoming in V. Iversen, A. Krishna, & K. Sen (Eds.), Social Mobility in Developing Countries: Concepts, Methods, and Determinants. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Email me for a draft.
 Women and (Informal) Work: Gender, Informal Labor, and the Civic Participation Gap in Urban Slums
Emily Rains. Submitted.
 Toward a Local View of Ethnic Polarization and Political Mobilization: Evidence from Urban India
Emily Rains & Jeremy Spater. Submitted.
 Living in Slums of Patna: Before, during and beyond the pandemic
Anirudh Krishna, Sujeet Kumar & Emily Rains. Forthcoming at the Journal of Asian Development Research.
 A Threat to Life and Livelihoods: Examining the Effects of Covid-19 on Health and Well-being in Bengaluru and Patna Slums
Harlan Downs-Tepper, Anirudh Krishna & Emily Rains. Forthcoming at Environment and Urbanization.
 Informal Work, Risk and Clientelism: Evidence from 223 Slums Across India
Emily Rains & Erik Wibbels. Conditionally accepted at the British Journal of Political Science.*If you cannot access an article, please email me and I will be happy to send you a copy.