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Demanding Development
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Book description

India's urban slums exhibit dramatic variation in their access to local public goods and services - paved roads, piped water, trash removal, sewers, and streetlights. Why are some vulnerable communities able to demand and secure development from the state while others fail? Drawing on more than two years of fieldwork in the north Indian cities of Bhopal and Jaipur, Demanding Development accounts for the uneven success of India's slum residents in securing local public goods and services. Auerbach's theory centers on the political organization of slum settlements and the informal slum leaders who spearhead resident efforts to make claims on the state - in particular, those slum leaders who are party workers. He finds striking variation in the extent to which networks of party workers have spread across slum settlements. Demanding Development shows how this variation in the density and partisan distribution of party workers across settlements has powerful consequences for the ability of residents to politically mobilize to improve local conditions.


'Millions of people across the world live in urban slums. In this important book, Auerbach asks why some slum communities feature better living conditions than others. Based on rigorous, multi-method research and deep contextual knowledge, he traces how party workers broker access to public services and, against conventional wisdom, shows that more diverse communities have superior public goods provision precisely because they feature multiple, competitive party worker networks.'

Melani Cammett - Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University, Massachusetts

'Auerbach’s book takes us to the forefront of contemporary urbanization, examining how slum dwellers in India secure basic services and infrastructure. Combining extensive qualitative fieldwork with survey data, he finds that slums with dense networks of party workers obtain more paved roads, drainage, and other crucial infrastructure. This stellar example of multi-method scholarship will help cement the ‘urban turn’ in comparative politics.'

Alison E. Post - University of California, Berkeley

'With this book, Auerbach emerges as a leader among scholars who look at the urban poor from the inside out. His painstaking ethnographic work and impressive original statistics persuade us that without looking at slums’ internal politics, little can be predicted about service levels and other outcomes. Laying bare these patterns of local politics, and explaining how they matter, will remain Auerbach’s abiding contributions to the study of the poor in cities.'

Anirudh Krishna - Edgar T. Thompson Professor of Public Policy, Duke University, North Carolina

'Demanding Development significantly advances the literature on democracy. Drawing on a wealth of ethnographic and survey data, Auerbach paints a picture of Indian slums that sets a new standard for depth and rigor. He lays waste to the widespread view of slums as passive communities manipulated by politicians. In a magisterial portrait of how slum politics actually work, Auerbach shows us how slum dwellers mobilize to make claims, making the powerful case that for all their diversity and desperation, slums can be arenas of solidarity and political organization. Demanding Development will fundamentally change the debate on the politics of the urban poor.'

Patrick Heller - Lyn Crost Professor of Social Sciences, Brown University, Rhode Island

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