CFP: Trying to Connect: Examining Social and Infrastructural Inequalities

XX ISA World Congress of Sociology, Melbourne, Jun 25 – July 1, 2023

Achieving an equitable and inclusive distribution of urban infrastructure and services poses various challenges for local authorities in cities around the world due to political instability and/or lack of financing. The inaccessibility or non-existence of urban infrastructure and services – particularly in the Global South, but also in the Global North – exacerbates existing social inequalities, as marginalized social groups suffer disproportionately from these problems. With a rising critique of the networked infrastructure ideal (Graham 2010), (academic) attention is increasingly concentrated on practices of co-production which complement or substitute public shortcomings. A particular focus has been the examination of  hybrid and heterogeneous constellations, which encompass both formal and informal elements of infrastructure and service production. These include processes of auto-construction, the parallel operation of formal and informal processes, and the formalisation of informal services (Moretto et. al. 2018; Mitlin/Bartlett 2018; Simone 2004). To investigate these different arrangements, a relational understanding of their provision which examines both their social and material forms of production has gained relevance in the last years (Jaglin 2017; Lawhon et. al. 2018). This shift of perspective happens in the context of different practices that richer and poorer households can use to substitute for lack of state or market provision. While it seems obvious that infrastructural inequality is related to social inequality, this session seeks to bring together contributions that examine the particular socio-material relations as well as spatial and temporal constellations of these inequalities. Comparative approaches that analyse the intersections of social and infrastructural inequalities and of the conflicts and tensions that accompany them are particularly welcome.

In this context, we are interested in contributions that address:

  • practices of informal or hybrid urbanisms, auto-construction or co-production
  • infrastructure and service delivery in their socio-material diversity (e.g. as delivery configurations)
  • conflicts arising from struggles over infrastructure and service delivery
  • a relational understanding of infrastructure and service delivery
  • the effects of poverty and wealth on infrastructure provision and accessibility
  • the intersection of social inequality, infrastructure, and service provision at the neighbourhood level
  • conceptual or empirical alternatives to the networked infrastructure ideal
  • fruitful comparative frameworks or case studies (e.g. South/South; South/North; East/West; etc.)

The XX ISA World Congress of Sociology will be in a hybrid format: Our session will be a mix of in-person and virtual presenters, based on the presenters preference.

Please submit your abstract of max. 300 words until  September 30, 2022, 24:00 GMT to our session online through the centralized platform of the ISA World Congress. You find it under Research Committee 21 – Regional and Urban development.

Organized by: Christian Rosen, Nina Gribat, Pearl Puwurayire, B-TU Cottbus-Senftenberg.

Relevant Literature

Graham, S. (2010): When infrastructures fail. In: Graham, S.: Disrupted Cities: When Infrastructures fail. New York/London: Routledge, 1-26.

Jaglin, S. (2017): Regulating service delivery in southern cities: rethinking urban heterogeneity. In: Parnell, S. / Oldfield, S. (Hg.) The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South. London: Routledge, 434-447.

Lawton, M. / Nilsson, D. / Silver, J. / Ernstson, H. / Lwasa, S. (2018): Thinking through heterogeneous infrastructure configurations. Urban Studies, 55(4), 720-732.

Mitlin, D. / Satterthwaite, D. (2013): Urban Poverty in the Global South: Scale and Nature. London / New York: Routledge.

Moretto L / Faldi G / Ranzato M / Rosati F / Boozi P /Teller J. (2018): Challenges of water and sanitation service co-production in the global South. Environ Urban 30(2), 425–443. doi:10.1177/0956247818790652.

Simone, A. (2004): People as infrastructure: Intersecting fragments in Johannesburg. Public Culture 16, 3, 407-429