Thick claims and thin rights: Taxation and the construction of analogue property rights in Lagos

Authors: Tom Goodfellow & Olly Owen
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Online
Date: July 2020


Economy and Society Vol 49 No 2

The importance of tenure security for development and wellbeing is often reduced to questions about how titles can guarantee rights, overlooking the contested and layered nature of property rights themselves. We use the case of Lagos to analyse property rights as ‘analogue’ rather than ‘digital’ in nature – things that only exist by degree, where a dynamic urban situation renders the distinction between a right and a claim much less clear than conventional approaches suggest. We argue that property taxation plays important and unanticipated roles in efforts to realize property rights. To fully understand attempts to construct rights it is necessary to analyse the range of payments, documents, social relations and other strategic moves that people make to thicken property claims in contexts of ‘radical insecurity’.