Institutional analysis of dynamics of disadvantage and strategies towards participatory governance in sustainable urban development of Nairobi, Kenya

Author: Stanley Muchiri Machuki

Machuki, Stanley Muchiri, 2020 Institutional analysis of dynamics of disadvantage and strategies towards participatory governance in sustainable urban development of Nairobi, Kenya, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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This doctoral research theorizes understandings of disadvantage and offers an original and innovative conceptualization of the ladder of disadvantage. The propulsion for this exploration of inequality and disadvantage was a desire to understand life chances and the capabilities of the most marginalized in relation to power, voice, vulnerability and agency to manage compounded disadvantage. This research revealed the perpetuation of this exclusion and marginalization because of current governance processes and structures. The case is made that dominant groups and structures marginalize those with few social networks and few resources. The doctoral research offers the argument that the needs of the most marginalised are addressed through enhancing democratic agency by presenting strategies to promote active participation at the local and national levels in governance processes.

The PhD addresses the equality gap in the life chances of people living in rapidly urbanising cities. The model developed is in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals to help uphold sustainable development in dynamic cities through informed policy development process. A critical, systemic and intersectionality approach is used to explore life chances of the disadvantaged and discuss the prevailing unequal and oppressive conditions, using Institutional Analysis framework and Capabilities Approach to suggest optimal conditions for social inclusion and economic equity in urban governance. This thesis adopts a sequential, transformative mixed method research design responsive to the needs and contributions of participants. Data collected through interviews, focus groups and a survey was used to develop the ladder as it applies to the most marginalised in the governance and development of the informal sector in Nairobi. Critical System Heuristics, using Ulrich’s twelve questions, combined with Kabeer’s Institutional Analysis are used as the methodological and philosophical framework to understand, critique, reflect and analyse the contemporary urban governance and development processes of Nairobi. This analytical strategy was deployed to help plot a way forward for a just and sustainable city. SPSS is used as an analysis tool for the analysis of survey data. Synergies and strategies are outlined highlighting roles of stakeholders in ‘a priori’ and ‘posteriori’ scenarios and routes in the form of pathways to wellbeing, inclusion and sustainable development. The thesis concludes by providing key recommendations and reforms to be adopted by both the Kenya National Government and Nairobi County Government particularly in the governance framework and economic policies of the informal sector.

Keywords: Urbanization, Participatory Governance, Sustainable Development, Institutional Analysis, Informal Sector, Disadvantage, Life Chances, Nairobi, Kenya

Subject: Development Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2020
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Professor Tara Brabazon