Institutional Regimes and Land Inequities: A Network & Systems Approach
Institutional regimes are crucial determinants of (un)just planning outcomes, yet remain understudied in planning. The subject research examines colonially-inherited laws, values, and practices around land use planning to unpack a central question: How do formal and informal legal and extra-legal regimes reproduce unequal access to land and unjust societal outcomes?
I answer this question by presenting a theoretically grounded empirical analysis of how the land use planning regimes that exist within a Global South context drive specific planning actions and (unjust) societal outcomes with negative impacts on low-income communities.
The analysis unfolds in two ways. First, I put the concept of nomotropism (acting in light of rules) into dialogue with constitutional economics to develop a conceptual framework on how land use planning regimes engender (perverse) incentives and forms of inequities. Second, I deploy this framework empirically using a network science approach and fuzzy cognitive mapping with stakeholders in Ghana to trace the complex, interconnected, and emergent connections between land use planning laws and practices, and forms of unjust planning actions and societal outcomes, observed among marginalized communities in Ghana’s urban areas.
I reflect on the planning practice and research implications of the study in both Global South and North contexts, explicitly highlighting the need for reflexive and intersectional practice and conversations around how formal and informal regulatory regimes and modes of governance technologies serve as the nexus where structure and agency interact. This nexus determines what land use planning decisions are made, how such decisions intersect with climate crises, racial and gender inequalities, and other forms of inequities planners are concerned about, who is included and excluded, and who benefits and suffers from these decisions.
Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah
Dr. Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah is an Associate Professor and Interim Chair of Urban and Regional Planning at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. He is the Director of the Just Institutions Lab and the Co-Director of the Community for Global Health Equity. Emmanuel is an interdisciplinary scholar trained in urban and regional planning and institutional economics. His work seeks to understand and reform the planning processes and institutional structures (laws, norms, values) that impede and ‘weaponize’ planning interventions against historically marginalized communities.
Some of his ongoing research projects are funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the National Science Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Emmanuel has published in some of the world’s leading planning and cross-disciplinary journals, including Planning Theory, Planning Theory and Practice, Big Data and Society, Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Urban Studies, Land Use Policy, and World Development.
He currently advises the World Health Organization’s Urban Health Unit to develop an implementation toolkit for communities and governments as part of the WHO Housing and Health Guidelines. Emmanuel is currently a board member of the Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and the Community Health Equity Research Institute. Both organizations are committed to addressing structural barriers to healthy living within our built and natural environments, especially focusing on African Americans and other underrepresented minorities in Buffalo. He also serves as the co-editor of the inaugural policy brief series by the UB Community for Global Health Equity.
Part of the DCRP Speaker Series