The informal Australian city



Publication Details

Iveson, K., Lyons, C., Clark, S. & Weir, S. (2019). The informal Australian city. Australian Geographer, 50 (1), 11-27.


In recent years, a vibrant literature on urban informality has emerged in urban geography. A key claim of this literature is that informality is not only present in cities in the Global South, and that the concept can be usefully applied to understand important dimensions of urbanisation in cities in the Global North. In this paper, we apply insights from that literature to an examination of informality in Australian cities, as a means of deepening our understanding of changes currently underway in urban governance and politics. Drawing on that literature and our own research into informal practices in Australian cities, we examine the forces that help to produce informality, the diverse forms and agents of informality, the forms of authority that they enact, and their relationship to formal economies, regulations and politics. We use examples of informal housing, informal labour, do-it-yourself music venues, graffiti and its regulation, food foraging, and queer community building in Sydney to illustrate our arguments. We conclude by reflecting on the lessons learnt across these diverse cases for our understanding of urban governance and politics in Australia, and offer an agenda for further research on this issue.

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