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Abstract, Progress in Development Studies, 2002

This paper reviews the current state of literature on peri-urban research in sub-Saharan Africa. This research has been led by multi-lateral and bilateral development agencies that have sought to find a role in urban development. The review finds that the donor-driven research has remained largely descriptive. It has neither emphasized nor theorized the rapid and contentious peri-urban transformations associated with globalization. The paper identifies these contradictory transformations and then reviews a range of social development theories, suggesting to what extent they are useful to a meaningful engagement with these contradictions. It highlights in particular the potential role of structuration theory.