Kristian Hoelscher

University of Oslo, Department of Political Science, and PRIO

Kristian Hoelscher

Urban Transitions, Conflict and Development

Over half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. The greatest growth in urban populations will take place in the least developed countries, provoking a series of economic, political and social changes that present governments with considerable challenges. One of the concerns is that if cities grow rapidly without offering economic opportunities to citizens, or granting them some form of political representation, the subsequent urban exclusion can give rise to insecure or  violent urban spaces. One possible way to address violence in urban spaces is by making sure local governments are responsive to needs in their cities and act in a way to foster inclusion in cities and responsive local institutions.

Given this background, the current PhD project in Political Science explores two key questions. Firstly, what are the key causes of urban violence and insecurity in the Global South, and secondly, what effect does urban governance and management of cities have on urban violence and insecurity. A further aim is to understand how the nature of violence may change with population shifts from rural to urban areas in the future. This can involve moving beyond a more structural understanding of the causes of violence at a national level, and understanding the mechanisms, particularly those at the urban or local level, that moderate the relationship between security and violence in cities.

The project will employ a two-stage mixed methods research design consisting of disaggregated and city-level quantitative analyses; and qualitative fieldwork in select countries. Quantitative work will address possible explanations for the variation in social and political violence across cities in developing countries, while qualitative work will attempt to contextualise results and understand the mechanisms by which local and national politics can affect urban insecurity.