Fraught with friction: Inclusive development for informal workers in urban Ghana

Tanja D. Hendriks, Rafael Verbuyst, Mayke Kaag*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Informal workers are a heterogeneous group distinguished by diverse activities and interests, but they have in common that they operate largely outside state regulations. In this article, we analyse the ways in which informal workers in Ghana are organising (themselves) in response to proposed relocations of their workspace. Borrowing from Tsing, we distinguish three layers of friction that can lead to (structural) change, collective action, and an increase in informal workers’ political leverage. Our two case studies in Accra and Kumasi show how striving for inclusive development is a process shaped by diverse agendas and potentially conflicting interests. These relational and political aspects are crucial for understanding the frictions involved, as well as how these may lead to change. Where the tendency is to gloss over these frictions, we argue that they need to be the starting point for effective policies and initiatives for inclusive development.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Development Research
Early online date18 Feb 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Feb 2022


  • collective action
  • friction
  • Ghana
  • informal workers
  • political leverage
  • relocation
  • transnational organising


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