Understanding the Tipping Point of Urban Conflict
The Urban Tipping Point project came to a close on 31 August 2012, however the programme website will remain live until late 2014.
The reasons why conflict turns into overt violence in some cities, but not in others, are poorly understood. Globally, increasing levels of urban violence – whether endemic gang, crime or drug-related violence, gender-based attacks, ethnic strife, terrorism or outright warfare – make this a critical issue to consider.
In recent years, a conventional wisdom has emerged, associating urban violence with four key ‘tipping factors’:
- large youth populations;
- failure to treat women's security in cities as a specific concern;
- absence of state authority in local communities.
The project offered new insights into the dynamics of urban conflict. In particular, it addressed the following questions:
- Does the conventional wisdom about urban violence explain the ‘tipping’ of urban conflict into overt violence in cities in the developing world?
- Can the identification of ‘violence chains’ help develop alternative violence reduction solutions for poor communities?
- How can poor communities best introduce new codes of negotiation with violent social actors and local authorities, to ensure safer environments that no longer erode their community and household assets?
Comparative research was conducted in four cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which have all been recently afflicted by violence associated with one of the four ‘tipping factors’:
- Nairobi, Kenya
- Dili, Timor Leste
- Patna, India
- Santiago, Chile.
The research programme was led by Professor Caroline Moser of the Global Urban Research Centre (GURC), and Dr Dennis Rodgers, formerly of Brooks World Poverty Institute (BWPI). It brings together an international team of researchers drawn from local civil society and global academic institutions, including:
- Global Urban Research Centre, University of Manchester.
- Brooks World Poverty Institute.
- Eco-Build Africa Trust, Kenya.
- Corporación SUR, Chile.
- Institute for Human Development, India.
- Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Switzerland.
The Urban Tipping Point website contains details of all the project results and outputs and will remain live until 2014.
In the media
13/11/2010 - 'Honduras: 'We are burying kids all the time'. Three young people are murdered every day in Honduras. BWPI's Dennis Rodgers comments in The Guardian on the rise of the 'maras' youth gangs that form a chain of drugs, extortion and violence.
20/06/12 - 'Urban tipping points - important new research on roots of violence'. Oxfam GB's Head of Research, Duncan Green, blogs on the project's research findings, and describes it as 'pretty close to being the perfect research project'.
- Rodgers, D. and Satija, S. (2012). 'Violence, crime and poverty in Patna, Bihar', worldpoverty@manchester briefing, 13, April.
- Rodgers, D., Beall, J. and Kanbur, R. (2011). 'Latin American urban development into the twenty-first century: towards a renewed perspective on the city', The European Journal of Development Research, 23(4), September.
- Rodgers, D. (2010). 'Interview with Dennis Rodgers', International Review of the Red Cross, 92(878), June.
- Rodgers, D. (2010). 'Urban violence is not (necessarily) a way of life: towards a political economy of conflict in cities', UNU-WIDER working paper No 20, Helsinki: UNU-WIDER.
- Jones, G. A., and D. Rodgers (eds.) (2009).Youth Violence in Latin America: Gangs and Juvenile Justice in Perspective(New York: Palgrave).
- Jütersonke, O., Krause, K. and Muggah, R. (2007). ‘Guns in the city: Urban landscapes of armed violence’. Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City (pp. 161-195) (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
- Jütersonke, O., R. Muggah, and D. Rodgers, (2009), ‘Gangs, urban violence, and security interventions in Central America’. Security Dialogue, 40(4-5), 373-397.
- Moser, C. and F. Clark, (eds.) (2001), Victims, Perpetrators, or Actors? Gender, Armed Conflict and Political Violence (London: Zed).
- Moser, C. (2004). ‘Urban violence and insecurity: An introductory roadmap’, Environment and Urbanization, 16(2), 3-16.
- Moser, C. (2009). Ordinary Families, Extraordinary Lives: Getting Out of Poverty in Guayaquil, Ecuador 1978-2004 (Washington, DC: Brookings Press).
- Moser, C. and Holland, J. (1997). 'Urban poverty and violence in Jamaica', World Bank Latin American and Caribbean Studies Viewpoints series working paper (Washington, DC: World Bank).
- Moser, C. and McIlwaine C. (2004). Encounters with Violence in Latin America: Urban Poor Perceptions from Colombia and Guatemala (London: Routledge).
- Moser, C. and McIlwaine, C. (2006). ‘Latin American urban violence as a development concern: Towards a framework for violence reduction’. World Development, 34(1), 89-112.
- Rodgers, D. (2006). ‘Living in the shadow of death: Gangs, violence and social order in urban Nicaragua, 1996-2002’. Journal of Latin American Studies, 38(2), 267-292.
- Rodgers, D. (2007). ‘Managua’, in K. Koonings and D. Kruijt (eds.), Fractured Cities: Social Exclusion, Urban Violence and Contested Spaces in Latin America (London: Zed Books).
- Rodgers, D. (2009). ‘Slum wars of the 21st century: Gangs, Mano Dura, and the new urban geography of conflict in Central America’. Development and Change, 40(5), 949-976.
- Rodgers, D. (2010). ‘Urban violence is not (necessarily) a way of life: Towards a political economy of conflict in cities’, in J. Beall, B. Guha-Khasnobis and R. Kanbur (eds.), Beyond the Tipping Point: The Benefits and Challenges of Urbanisation (Oxford, Oxford University Press, [in press]).