Law, the City and Citizenship in Developing Countries: an Introduction

' [C]ritical urban research has... largely failed to understand the legal dimension of the urban phenomenon. Law has been either dismissed or taken for granted. On the one hand, not only are the more radical critical analyses, including traditional Marxist ones, unable to provide a satisfactory account of the legal phenomenon in general; they also have almost nothing of significance to say about the intricate network of (il)legal social relations established in the city, particularly those relating to the use of land. Such approaches are very often dismissive of urban law because of their adherence to the narrow perspective of the die-hard Leninist theory of the state, which has conceived law as a mere instrument manipulated by a monolistic (bourgeois) state.
Most urban research, on the other hand, seems to have taken the legal phenomenon for granted, as if it were an independent, and theoretically uncomplicated, domain of knowledge and action. Regardless of the significant advances already made in the formulation of a theory of the state, critical urban research has not gone very far towards identifying the nature of the relationship between the state and its legal apparatus. It has largely, and generally implicitly, conceived of legal relations as being politically and socially neutral.'

E Fernandes & A Varley 'Law, the City and Citizenship in Developing Countries: an Introduction' 1, 6-7 in Fernades & Varley (eds.) Illegal Cities: Law and Urban Change in Developing Countries (1998)

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