Beyond contention: urban social movements and their multiple approaches to secure transformation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper explores the strategies of social movement organizations working in towns and cities of the global South to secure justice for their members and address poverty and inequality. The paper argues that there has been a false distinction between alternative strategies of resistance. Drawing on research in Kenya and South Africa, I argue that, rather than seeing strategies of contention, collaboration and subversion as separate approaches, they can best be understood as alternative strategies, adopted simultaneously and iteratively by urban social movements. Movements, I suggest, move among contentious politics, efforts at collaboration with the state, and subversion (often taking the form of encroachment), to address the survival imperatives of their members.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Urbanization
Early online date20 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018