Urban and Sub-national Politics in Developing Countries

Fall 2013
Course Description

Over half of the world’s population is now urban.   As urban populations swell, metropolitan areas in both the developed and the developing world struggle to provide basic services and address the negative externalities associated with rapid growth.   Sanitation, transportation, pollution, energy services, and public safety typically fall to sub-national governments.   Yet local sub-national institutions face difficulties as they tackle these challenges because development tends to spill over political boundaries and resources are limited.   Such difficulties are particularly acute in the developing world due to tighter resource constraints, weak institutions, and the comparative severity of the underlying problems.   Moreover, democratization and decentralization suggest that urban governance and service delivery may have become more democratic, but present challenges with respect to priority setting, coordination, and corruption.

This course will consider the political and institutional environment in which efforts to address metropolitan problems are developed, the financial and institutional vehicles used to provide services of different types, and the role of political parties and other forms of political organization in the development and allocation of services. Topics will include urban and sub-national institutions and political regime types, decentralization and multi-level governance, the rule of law and urban violence, civil society and popular mobilization, political party organization and mobilization strategies, public policy formulation, urban bureaucracies, corruption, the politics of urbanization, and the metropolitan political economy. Readings will be drawn primarily from Political Science, Sociology, Geography, and Economics.


This course is cross listed with City Planning C 139

Subfield:   Comparative Politics