The Patchwork City: Class, Space, and Politics in Metro Manila

The Patchwork City: Class, Space, and Politics in Metro Manila

by Marco Z. Garrido

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In contemporary Manila, slums and squatter settlements are peppered throughout the city, often pushing right up against the walled enclaves of the privileged, creating the complex geopolitical pattern of Marco Z. Garrido’s “patchwork city.” Garrido documents the fragmentation of Manila into a mélange of spaces defined by class, particularly slums and upper- and middle-class enclaves. He then looks beyond urban fragmentation to delineate its effects on class relations and politics, arguing that the proliferation of these slums and enclaves and their subsequent proximity have intensified class relations. For enclave residents, the proximity of slums is a source of insecurity, compelling them to impose spatial boundaries on slum residents. For slum residents, the regular imposition of these boundaries creates a pervasive sense of discrimination. Class boundaries then sharpen along the housing divide, and the urban poor and middle class emerge not as labor and capital but as squatters and “villagers,” Manila’s name for subdivision residents. Garrido further examines the politicization of this divide with the case of the populist president Joseph Estrada, finding the two sides drawn into contention over not just the right to the city, but the nature of democracy itself.

The Patchwork City illuminates how segregation, class relations, and democracy are all intensely connected.  It makes clear, ultimately, that class as a social structure is as indispensable to the study of Manila—and of many other cities of the Global South—as race is to the study of American cities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226643281
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 08/05/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Marco Z. Garrido is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Chicago.

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The Stakes and Approach

The Stakes

Urban Restructuring

This story fits into a larger one about the restructuring of cities in an era of globalization. It begins with the global process of economic restructuring in the 1970s and 1980s. Restructuring involved a shift in production from manufacturing to services, a transition to more open markets, and developments in transportation and information technology. It led to increased capital mobility and greater global economic integration. Consequently, we see the dispersal of economic activities globally but also their concentration in "global cities." Friedmann and Wolff (1982), Sassen (1991), and Knox and Taylor (1995), among others, depict global cities as the command centers of the world economy. They function as hubs for corporate services as well as major sites of production.

This literature tells a story of social polarization in global and globalizing cities. It highlights the bifurcation of the labor market between high- and low-skilled service work. Although the opportunities for those at the top have expanded, the situation of those at the bottom has worsened as work is rendered "flexible" or contingent, welfare provisions rolled back, and the power of organized labor diminished. We see a contraction of the middle class, greater inequality, and the growth of informal work. Although restructuring is not making cities socially dual — they remain stratified along various, crosscutting lines — it has led to a process of dualization. Soja (1989), Mollenkopf and Castells (1991), Sassen (1994), and others have pointed to the formation of an organized core of professionals and managers and a disorganized periphery of low-wage service workers. Workers on the periphery are disorganized because they are socially heterogeneous and occupationally fragmented.

Corporate building and social polarization manifest spatially in gentrification, gating, racial and cultural segregation, eviction, homelessness, and the consolidation of "ghetto" areas. We see a restructuring of urban space distinguished, Marcuse and van Kempen (2000) contend, by two broad developments: one, the proliferation of distinct, self-contained, and relatively exclusive social spaces (e.g., residential and commercial enclaves, business and industrial districts, cultural quarters, ghettos) and, two, the emergence of new and stronger spatial divisions, both physical and symbolic. "Social contact across class lines has always been limited," they write; "what is different today is the sharpness of the spatial boundaries inhibiting such contact, the extent of the concentration by class within those boundaries" (252). They describe urban space being "quartered" along lines of race, ethnicity, class, and occupation — quartered in the sense of being fragmented but also in the sense of being pulled apart.

Soja (1989) describes the post-Fordist geography of Los Angeles as "kaleidoscopic." He depicts a city fragmented into a mosaic of spaces coexisting uneasily with one another. Davis (1990) portrays the city as increasingly forbidding. He cites building characterized by "an architecture of fear," well-heeled residents resorting to private security services, and public spaces designed to deter the wrong public (i.e., the poor and homeless). Wilson (1987) links economic restructuring to the consolidation of ghettos in Chicago. The deindustrialization of the city and the emergence of new service industries in the suburbs and other parts of the country precipitated the exodus of middle- and working-class blacks from the inner city. The "truly disadvantaged" were left behind in areas that had come to be characterized by the concentration of poverty. The literature on neighborhood effects describes these areas as "poverty traps," places where social disadvantages compound (Sampson and Morenoff 2006). Wacquant (2008), meanwhile, emphasizes a process of stigmatization that is not just racial but also territorial. While the residents of Chicago's ghettos are stigmatized, foremost, by race, the stigma attached to banlieue residents in France is primarily territorial. Stigma can be avoided so long as person and place are dissociated.

Urban restructuring has given rise to contestation over urban space in the form of, for example, struggles for affordable housing or against gentrification. The globalizing city has becomes a stage for marginal groups to assert their "right to the city." The notion of a right to the city has been advanced by various scholars as a way of highlighting issues of spatial justice. It means more than just the right to urban space and resources. It means the right to urban life (Lefebvre 1996) or urban presence (Sassen 1999) — essentially, the right to remake the city in one's image over and against the interests of capital (Harvey 2003).

Abu-Lughod (1999) cautions against seeing the effects of restructuring as uniform across cities. She observes significant variation in the effects of restructuring on New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Social polarization is a function not purely of globalization, she contends, but of different, city-specific causes. Brenner (2001) agrees that restructuring is path-dependent and welcomes thicker, more contextually embedded scholarship. He argues, nonetheless, that it marks a break with earlier phases of urbanization, one distinguished by the globalization of urban processes. The variation in outcomes represents different expressions of the same process.

Cities in the Global South also underwent an urban restructuring, but to understand the impact of that, we cannot simply extrapolate from the experience of cities in the Global North. The effects of restructuring on the Global South have differed in significant ways. We see growth in high-value corporate services but also in manufacturing, particularly across Asia and in parts of Latin America. We cannot really speak of deindustrialization when, in most countries, there was little industrialization to begin with. Instead, economists talk about countries "leapfrogging" industrialization by wholeheartedly embracing services. The implementation of market reforms accelerated the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into metro regions, spectacularly remaking urban landscapes in many primate cities. A market orientation generally promoted economic growth and led to significant reductions in poverty (eventually, if not initially), but it also worsened conditions of work. Employers increasingly turned to nonregular, unprotected forms of employment. The informal sector, already large, expanded in some countries. Overall, work became even more precarious (Kalleberg and Hewison 2013; Portes and Roberts 2005).

Although there is growing income inequality and a bifurcation between professional and precarious work, social polarization in the developing world is not quite the same thing as social polarization in the developed one. For one, we see a thickening, not a thinning, of the middle class in the developing world. Economic restructuring led to the growth of the middle class as an economic group as well as to its greater sense of identity as a social one. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for instance, the middle class expanded by 50 percent, from 103 million to 152 million, between 2003 and 2009 (Ferreira et al. 2013). It now accounts for about 30 percent of the region's population, with most of the rest consisting of the poor and near poor, at 38 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Second, if restructuring in the Global North led to the emergence of problems related to a new precarity among workers (e.g., the growth of an informal economy, spreading homelessness, consolidation of the ghetto), social polarization in the Global South has meant the worsening of old problems associated with "overurbanization," notably, precarious work and informal housing.

Scholars in the 1950s and 1960s diagnosed "Third World" cities as being overurbanized. By this they meant that urban growth had "run ahead" of the city's capacity to absorb the population (Davis and Golden 1954; Hoselitz 1957; Gugler and Flanagan 1976). There wasn't enough industrialization or economic development relative to urban growth; specifically, there weren't enough jobs, housing, and services. The problem, though, was not simply a lack of jobs; it was that most of the urban population had no other option but casual work — work characterized by the insecurity of employment and income (Bromley and Gerry 1979). These jobs were not so much occupations as means of getting by. Overurbanization also manifested in the growth of slums. Slums were not only a general problem affecting Third World cities — market economies, specifically — across the board. They proved a persistent problem. A third of the urban population in developing countries continues to live in slums. This figure represents a slight decline proportionally (from about 35 percent to 40 percent in the 1970s) but a breathtaking increase in absolute numbers. The slum population in cities of the Global South grew from one hundred million in 1960 to nearly nine hundred million in 2014 (UN Habitat 2016).

Urban restructuring in the 1990s was distinguished most evidently by widespread enclavization. This includes the enclosure of the rich and middle class behind the walls of gated subdivisions and closed condominiums (heavily guarded high-rises), the building of corporate and commercial enclaves, and the bundling of various functions within the same exclusive spaces. Enclavization has been driven by the unprecedented inflow of FDI and remittances, as well as by middle-class demand. The real estate industries in cities of the Global South have focused not only on meeting this demand but also on helping create it by marketing enclaves as the very definition of modern housing (e.g., Connell 1999).

In some cities, the proliferation of slums and enclaves has produced a pattern of segregation characterized by the proximity of spaces sharply distinguished by their class character. This pattern — mixed at the macro level and intensely segregated at the micro level — has been described as "cellular segregation" (Thibert and Osorio 2013), "perverse integration" (Portes, Itzigsohn, and Cabral 1994), and "proximity and walls" (Caldeira 2000) in certain Latin American cities. There is evidence of a similar kind of fragmentation in other cities across the Global South, including Manila (Shatkin 2008), Mumbai (Patel 2007), Jakarta (Firman 2004), Istanbul (Genis 2007), and Cairo (Abaza 2001). For this set of cities, we can say, in general, that the urban middle class and poor have moved closer together in space and that their spaces have become more sharply distinguished. In Manila, as we will see, the interspersion of slums and enclaves is especially pronounced.

As a result of these spatial sorting processes, many Global Southern cities have become more clearly dual. We see spatial boundaries proliferating and becoming sharper. As a number of scholars have observed (Gonzáles de la Rocha et al. 2004; Koonings and Krujit 2009; Sandhu and Sandhu 2007), the experience of stigma and exclusion has become salient. The stigma is primarily territorial; the exclusion primarily spatial. In a survey of favela residents in Rio de Janeiro, Perlman (2010) found that living in a favela constituted a greater source of discrimination than being dark-skinned, looking a certain way, or originating outside the city. In Manila, class boundaries are clarifying and calcifying along the boundary between slums and enclaves. We are seeing class formation along the housing divide. We need to understand this process relationally, that is, as driven by class interaction. It is through such interaction that boundaries take shape and class groups acquire definition. What restructuring is changing, I argue, is the extent and quality of class interaction. It is this thread I pick up and develop throughout this book.

What has restructuring meant for urban experience? What has it meant, specifically, for the experience of class relations in cities of the Global South? A number of studies already focus on the plight of the urban poor or middle class under restructuring. It is not just the one or the other group being transformed, however, but their relationship. It is their dynamic, not their individual situations, that is producing a new spatiality, sociality, and politics. I focus, therefore, on the changing experience of class relations. It is this aspect that I seek to integrate more fully into the larger story. After all, urban restructuring involves more than just the transformation of social and spatial structures. It involves the formation of distinct subjectivities and a particular economy of practices. The two elements, structure and experience, are bound together, and so by integrating them, we can get a better account of social processes at stake. We also will be better able to see how restructuring has shaped subjectivity and practice and how these, in turn, reproduce emergent social and spatial structures. In the case of Manila, I show a pattern of segregation to affect the extent and quality of class interaction and give rise to logics of practice that, enacted, further entrench segregation and underscore class boundaries.

Further, by incorporating experience into the story, we are able to see beyond the usual plotlines. We are able to extend the story beyond space and class and into the realm of politics. I show how the experience of the urban poor and middle class as class actors shapes their subjectivity as political actors. I show how it leads to contention not just over the right to the city but also over the right to speak and be heard. It leads to contention over democracy.

Democracy and Inequality

Democracy Distorted

For Tocqueville ([1835] 2003), democracy is more than just a form of government; it is a type of society based on equality. He was struck by the general equality of conditions prevailing in early nineteenth-century America among freemen of European origin. Social equality was coupled with a remarkable social mobility such that, Tocqueville recounts, most of the wealthy men he encountered had come from poverty. As he saw it, the situation fostered democratic relations. Compared to the situation in Europe, interaction was simple, easy, uncomplicated by status concerns, and unencumbered by ceremony. The influence of social equality on the imagination was profound. It became easy to imagine oneself in the place of others, and thus people were better able to conceive "a general compassion" for one another. It became easy to imagine oneself along with everyone else as part of the same nation. This led, naturally, to a feeling of solidarity. Because it was easy to place oneself within the nation as a whole, the notion that the majority possessed moral authority appeared self-evident, and the legitimacy of representative government could be taken for granted. In contrast, in an aristocratic nation, where social inequality has been formalized into a hierarchy of status groups, members of the different groups "scarcely believe that they belong to the same human race" (650).

Tocqueville illustrates this difference with reference to the master-servant relationship. In aristocratic nations, masters and servants form "two social groups, one lying above the other, always clearly defined by parallel principles" (663). But in America the difference between masters and servants is situational more than it is social. Their common status as citizens takes precedence over their occupational or class identities. Servants are not seen as inferior to masters by nature; "they become so only temporarily by contract." "Within the terms of this contract," Tocqueville continues, "one is servant, one is master; beyond that they are two citizens, two men" (667). To put the matter another way, general equality creates a democratic ethos that negates specific situations of hierarchy, "a sort of imaginary equality in spite of the actual inequality of their social condition" (668).

We might add a contemporary contrast. In India, domestic servants form an essential part of middle-class households, and yet they are considered socially distinct from their employers. According to Qayum and Ray (2011), this distinction has blurred with the spread of mass culture. Employers complain that servants are no longer as easily identifiable by their dress or deportment. This becomes a cause for anxiety, for "if female servants 'pass' as middle-class women, then employers could mistakenly socialize with them, talk to them as peers and, most worryingly of all, conceivably fall in love with them" (267). The threat of pollution, the fact that servants can only pass and never be, reveals the nature of the divide between the groups. They are seen as unequal not only in condition and capability but also in kind and worth. To use Charles Tilly's phrase (1998), they are categorically unequal.


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Table of Contents


1 The Stakes and Approach
2 The Argument

Part One. From Urban Fragmentation to Class Division

3 Interspersion
4 Imposing Boundaries: Villagers
5 Boundary Imposition: Squatters

Part Two. From Class Division to Political Dissensus

Introduction to Part Two
6 The Politics of Electoral Siege
7 The Politics of Recognition
8 Dissensus

Appendix: Selecting Cases and Getting Access

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