Co-production and enterprise culture: negotiating local urban development culture in Santo Domingo’s ‘barrios populares’
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Responsibilities for securing urban citizenship rights and providing basic urban services have decentralized to such a degree across much of the global south that identifying who the various relevant players might be in any given urban development context and what role they might play is increasingly difficult. Moreover, informal, non-codified, and ad hoc decision-making have emerged as fundamental planning and urban governance idioms in much of the global south, and as a result the “rules of the game” that affect the allocation of urban development resources are increasingly illegible in many areas. With more actors and few clearly delineated policies, the work of cataloguing local urban development cultures and the applicable “rules of the game” that govern resource allocation is increasingly important. This work attempts to catalogue such local urban development culture and explore its operationalization in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. More specifically, the study is concerned with how key actors in urban development space—local government officials, civil society representatives, and neighborhood development activists—understand and articulate the values and principles that affect urban development practice in their local context. The goal of my work is to develop a composite set of “rules of the game” for urban development practice in Santo Domingo regarding how, when, and for what purpose material resources are brought to bear on neighborhood level urban development projects in informal settlements and other economically or environmentally distressed neighborhoods. My results show that in the context of Santo Domingo, it is a community’s ability to demonstrate an entrepreneurial capacity for self-management, proactive organizing, and project financial sustainability that are the predominant determinative factors affecting whether a community will likely win the favor and eventual material support of local government entities, communicating a message that citizens are expected to be full partners in service provision rather than mere beneficiaries.