Working Paper 87. Citizenship, the 'Right to the City' and State Fragility.


This paper draws together insights from a wide range of work carried out for the Cities and Fragile States component of the Crisis States programme between 2005 and 2010.

The author examines the city as a site in which the provision of public goods and services for citizens is demanded and provided through the transfer of central state revenues. The relationship between state and citizens is not conceived simply in the relatively passive and limiting terms of welfare delivery, but rather within the broader arena of social rights, understood as a core component of substantive citizenship – an important characteristic of developmental states. The focus of the paper is derived from the recognition that social rights, notably access to land and housing, are of particular importance in cities. Conflicts over the appropriate use of land are more likely to arise in urban areas, and the high value of land combined with its potential to contribute to economic development mean that the state almost inevitably becomes involved in these conflicts. This paper's examination of the spatial aspects of social rights in urban areas gives rise to a discussion of the 'right to the city', and how the denial of this right can create increased tension and destabilisation in the cities of fragile states. The author outlines the theoretical basis for the paper with an examination of social rights and substantive citizenship, illustrated through the case of a housing movement of the urban poor in São Paulo, Brazil. The paper then develops the discussion of the link between social rights and state stability through a reading of a selection of CSRC case studies of cities in fragile states.


Working Paper No. 87 (series 2), London, UK; Crisis States Research Centre, 19 pp.

Working Paper 87. Citizenship, the ‘Right to the City’ and State Fragility.

Published 1 January 2011