Political Participation, Representation and the Urban Poor

Abstract

In recent times, social scientists have noted the decline of state responsiveness to social claims. There appears an equal decline in the ability of existing structures of representation to provide poorer social groups influence over policy. On the other hand, there is also evidence of a crisis in popular representation in several low- and middle-income countries. Poorer social groups appear to have a limited capacity to present a reform agenda that addresses issues of basic rights and ensures livelihoods. To test this hypothesis, this paper studies sample communities in Delhi, representative of a broad cross section of the population. Through an analysis of the data collected, the study describes and explains patterns of political participation, focusing in particular on ways in which poorer social groups organise, obtain political representation and try to solve collective social problems. It appears, contrary to most expectations, that the needs and interest of poorer people are increasingly being met through the 'new politics' of social movements, the poor in particular still seek to represent themselves and to tackle their problems through political parties.

Citation

Harriss, J. Political Participation, Representation and the Urban Poor. Economic and political weekly (2005) 40 (11) 1041-1054.

Political Participation, Representation and the Urban Poor

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