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Policy Briefs

The Middle Class Urbanism POLICY BRIEFS provide a platform for the dissemination of key findings of the Middle Class Urbanism research project hosted at the National Museum of Denmark.

This publication series is addressing both researchers and policy makers in universities and research institutes, government bodies, and other related organisations. The publication series aims at

  • disseminating key findings of our research in a concise and easily accessible format.
  • making preliminary research results quickly available.
  • facilitating exchange of quality research among the academic community, strengthening scientific and policy debates concerning the challenges of urban planning in sub-Saharan Africa, exploring new lines of reflection and analysis, and endorsing the cross-fertilisation of research across interrelated disciplines.
  • presenting recommendations to inform ongoing policy debates in Mozambique and other countries of the global south. Drawing on the expertise of current research at the National Museum of Denmark, the University of Aarhus, and the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, our policy briefs summarise either our research findings or the state of knowledge about a particular aspect of the role, the dynamics, and the aspirations of Middle Class Urbanism.
Policy Briefs

MCU Policy Brief #2: Will the urban middle class save African Cities? Or just itself?
By: Morten Nielsen | July 2020

As cities across the Global South continue to grow at an explosive rate, a major challenge is how to ensure socially sustainable devel- opment for the many urban residents in need of basic services and viable housing. Over the last two decades, the middle class has con- sistently been promoted by urban analysts, researchers and practi- tioners as the probable vanguard of sustainable urban development: With their improved economic capacities and attention to civic rights and transparent governance, the argument goes, members of the urban middle class will ensure that cities across the Global South will provide sustainable living conditions for all. Based on recent research from Maputo, Mozambique, in this Policy Brief, this widespread understanding regarding the expected positive societal effects of a strengthened urban middle class is challenged. It is documented how recent urban developments focusing on the growing middle class have aggravated rather than alleviated entrenched social and economic inequalities. Rather than focusing on the assumed but uncorroborated productive effects of a growing middle class, recommendations are made for (1) implementing stronger regulations on speculative land investments and (2) formalizing existing land occupations on the urban periphery.

Download the policy brief here.

Policy Briefs

MCU Policy Brief #1: Middle Class Urbanism is a Policy Issue
By: Anna Mazzolini | March 2020

Many different voices have arisen over the last years regarding the need for further evidence on urbanization directions in the Global South.
New, diverse and multi-agency urbanization patterns and their transformative impacts on countries ́ policies, planning apparatus and land management have been at the core of the recent debate on southern urbanism. Among factors such as the role of foreign investments on urban planning, the increasing contribution of the “informal” economies in the city development and economies, and the threat of new “unsustainable” urban trends such as sprawl, congestion and collapse of conventional planning systems, the urban middle class appears to be an intersecting and recurrent actor silently penetrating and influencing all the factors mentioned above.
Current rising investments in Africa’s cities which are often described as entirely new cities or planned, self-contained enclaves, are related to this new urban actor. On the other hand, paradoxically it is the urban middle class that is seen as the sole actor able to create a more equitable urban environment.
Beyond pure spatial and policy analysis, what is at stake is to capture more conceptual clarity on these issues, and this is a complex and long-lasting issue. After almost two years of Intense research, the Middle Class Urbanism Project is pleased to share the first brief on this topic and to introduce its interdisciplinary and positively deconstructive research approach.

Download the policy brief here.