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Roy urban informality

“Urban Informality: Toward an Epistemology of Planning”


Journal of the American Planning Association 71, no. 2: 147–158



This clearly written essay provides a critical look at two themes that have dominated the discussion of informality in cities of the global south—the supposed crisis of “informal hypergrowth” and the vision of informality as a model of “heroic entrepreneurship.” Roy proposes an alternative view of informality, presenting it as “a series of transactions that connect different economies and spaces together.” In her view, recognizing informality not as an external “object of development” but instead as a product of the state can reveal the limitations of conventional planning practices and provide models for its revision. Also on this topic, see Roy and Nezar Alsayyad, eds., Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives from the Middle East, Latin America, and South Asia (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2004).

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