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From Visible Informality to Splintered Informalities: Reflections on the Production of ‘Formality’ in a Moroccan Housing Programme


Year published: 2021
Categories: Journal Article
URL Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.13001

Author / Authors:

  • Beier, Raffael


International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (open access, ahead of print) https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.13001


Increasingly, scholarly works challenge the formal/informal dichotomy, stressing the multiple political practices of producing informality which go beyond state incapacity. In contrast, this article addresses a lack of research concerning the production of ‘formal’ urban space through state‐led housing programmes. Deconstructing simplistic notions of state intentionality and incapacity, the article zooms in on competing interests and diverse resources, as well as the shifting power relations between multiple private, semi‐public and public actors which shape the production of ‘formality’. Focusing on a shantytown resettlement programme in Casablanca, the article differentiates between visible informality and splintered informalities. The former relates to the prevailing clear‐cut and stereotypical dichotomy between formal and informal urban space which underpins the state's objective of eliminating the visible informality attached to Morocco's shantytowns. The latter is the result of a messy process of ensuring housing affordability through the so‐called third‐party scheme—a sites‐and‐services project based on small‐scale private investment and land speculation—once this objective is achieved. Characterized by heterogeneous actor constellations, opportunism and flexible regulatory practices, the scheme has not only capitalized but also individualized urban space. Instead of building new formal housing, the scheme has produced splintered informalities and created new uncertainties and arbitrariness beyond the control of a single actor.


  • Journal Article