Michael Hooper writes on slum dweller mobilization in Environment and UrbanizationMay 01, 2012
Michael Hooper, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, and his colleague Leonard Ortolano at Stanford have published results from their research on slum dweller mobilization in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Their recent paper, in the journal Environment and Urbanization, examines factors motivating slum dweller participation in physically and politically risky social movement activities. The research looked at grassroots mobilization around a large-scale eviction in the city's Kurasini ward. The study's results suggest that the dynamics of participatory decision making are more complex than usually assumed by planners, policymakers and community organizers alike.
The research employed an analytic narrative approach to account for patterns in participatory behavior, drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data gathered through extensive interviews with slum dwellers. The study shows that property owners were significantly more likely than renters to participate in mobilization efforts. The study identifies three factors that favored owner participation: the nature of expected payoffs from participation; greater belief in their efficacy of action; and greater connection to place. The results suggest that the renter/owner cleavage is critically important to understanding patterns of participation in grassroots mobilization in African cities and that more consideration needs to be given to the ways in which renterhood influences engagement in the political, social and economic life of slums.