1: Introduction: Self-building as a right to the city

The chapter sets up the analytical framework for the comparison of cases of self-building by low income groups in city-regions of the Global North and South. Considering the enormous local differences, a choice of paradigm is needed to enable comparison. By designing a framework of contested urban governance, the analysis focuses on the struggle of social and economic forces that are underlying the local experiences: it consists of the economic powers that capitalize on material growth of cities on the one hand and the social and cultural powers of the urban population, claiming their right to the city, on the other. Crucial is the commissioning role of the residents in the attempts to control their housing situation in relation to other relevant players on urban housing markets. These attempts are not only made in the micro-level performance of self-building but also in the political and social struggle on the conditions that rest on these practices.

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