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’.


Tom Goodfellow

Tom Goodfellow is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield. His research concerns the political economy of urban development in Africa, with particular interests in the politics of urban informal economies, urban conflict and violence, land governance and taxation.

Olly Owen

Olly Owen is an ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellow at the Oxford Department for International Development. With a background in anthropology, his research focuses on politics and governance in West Africa, particularly on policing structures and practices and fiscal governance issues in Nigeria.
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