This research program studies the everyday administration and management of cities. It studies the role of informality in their governance. Traditionally, informality is considered in an economic perspective, within the context of developing countries. Economic activities which are not declared to fiscal administrations, for instance, are part of the informal sector: lower jobs in the food sector, street vendors, carpenters, etc. are part of the activities that guarantee an income (even if irregular) to populations. Our research team seeks to go farther than these first types of economic features to consider the role of informality in the making and persistence of networks of power in the city. It aims at conducting research both in developed and developing countries. Indeed clientelism, the use of family ties, corruption, etc. are equally present in the management of developed countries with market economies.

In this project, we will try to answer a few questions. What are the motivations of the authorities when they tolerate certain practices that are outside the law? How do different sets of actors take over certain neighbourhoods and are able to draw resources from them (whether they are political, social or economic)? For instance, how are they able, in certain neighbourhoods, to take over the control and rehabilitation of buildings, the management of garbage? What are the (sometimes criminal) ties between the authorities and private actors,? For example, some leaders control underground networks in order to secure electoral positions or to create clienteles. The question of informality also raises the question of the mobilisation of inhabitants at the local level: when the central or municipal authorities do not take any initiatives, inhabitants, associations and other important people in the neighbourhoods organise themselves to create services as a substitution (security committees, etc.). This program is based on a comparison between cities based in different contexts: European (Italy), Latino-American (Brazil, Mexico, Peru), African (South Africa, Cameroon) and Asian (Indonesia and the Philippines).