An Urban Middle Class and the Vacillation of 'Informal' Boundaries - Insights from Maputo, Mozambique

  • Anna Mazzolini University of Venice
Keywords: urban middle class, Maputo, housing, formal-informal boundary, inverse planning, urban governance


Over the last decades, interest in major cities in sub-Saharan Africa has heightened, mainly due to their rapid economic growth, as well asthe emergence of a so-called new urban ‘middle class’. This paper aims to contribute to the debate from a policy planning perspective by analysing possible outcomes of the newly middle class housing, land demand and settling-down trends. These are currently dealt with under an out-of-date concept of formal-informal boundary. In some of Maputo’s hot-spot zones it is particularly evident that this class seek alternative ways to obtain a decent dwelling, redesigning the physical boundaries of the city and  leading to the vacillation of the concept still labelled as urban ‘informality’. Using the city of Maputo (and its most recent urbanisation trends) as a fruitful case study, the aim is to shed light on how the interconnections between a rising middle class and a culturally embedded ‘informal’ urban production of space could be pivotal for the emergence of many new forms of urban ‘behaviours’ in similar Sub-Saharan African cities. Specific cases of ‘inverse planning’ procedures to obtain land rights reputedly support two main concepts: the first being that it is really a new emergent class who seem to be increasingly proactive towards new hybrid planning actions; the second being the consequences these actions are already leading to in terms of urban governance.


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