Towards alternative conceptions of local economic reform in the developing world: the case of South Africa
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Against a comprehensive critical review of the international literature over the past decade on cities and the global economy, this paper argues that in many of the cities in the developing world, in large part due to state incapacity to address local problems, there has been a flourishing of organisations in civil society to engage in self-help, build social networks and mutual support groups, and create other forms of associational life to meet basic services needs as well as generate economic growth. The paper posits that this raises the question, then, given the specific and often complex local contexts within which cities in the developing world operate, as to what actually constitutes appropriate mechanisms to stimulate local economic development (and initiate political reform) in these places, South Africa's town and cities included? Are public-private partnerships, urban growth coalitions, urban regimes, and other types of urban entrepreneurial ventures, most of which embrace privatistic and corporatist growth agendas, the most suitable institutional arrangements to effect local economic growth in the cities of Asia, Africa and Latin America? Or are new locally-based associational arrangements like forums, voluntary bodies representing a broad spectrum of social interests and seeking essentially to debate issues of importance to a metropolitan in a truly inclusive manner, moreably placed to address the issue of economic growth and generation, thereby reducing poverty, in these cities?