Cities have a distinctive role in development processes: they are focal points for economic growth, jobs and innovation but also for poverty, inequality, vulnerability and conflict. Although we can learn from historical processes of urbanisation, there are many new development elements to understand on how cities play a role in these processes, and what it means to be living in a city in the 21st century.

Our research focuses on the circumstances of poor and vulnerable people and explores ways in which different forms of inequalities interact to produce both good and bad outcomes for people in cities. It maintains a focus on rights and social justice through explorations of the boundaries between the formal-informal, legal-illegal, and of urban social movements and forms of association. There is a strong commitment to working and understanding from the ‘bottom-up’ and for finding ways to engage with people and organisations that work directly with and for city people.

Ultimately, our work on cities aims to transform the knowledge needed for better lives and more equitable and sustainable development globally.

Related Research

Current IDS research explores a wide range of issues in cities and on the role of cities in contemporary development processes, which includes:

  • The emergence of new patterns and forms of poverty and vulnerability
  • Urban governance and livelihoods
  • New forms of association and political action
  • The role of ICTs
  • Concerns for sustainable development
  • The peri-urban space
  • The transmissions of diseases
  • Habitat III and The New Urban Agenda


IDS researchers working within the Cities thematic cluster are members of the following:

Key contacts

Image of Dolf J.H. te Lintelo

Dolf J.H. te Lintelo

Research Fellow and Cities Cluster Leader


+44 (0)1273 915767



Image of Anuradha Joshi

Anuradha Joshi

Research Fellow

Image of Beatriz Aguirre Martinez

Beatriz Aguirre Martinez

Postgraduate Researcher

Image of Deborah Shenton

Deborah Shenton

Hub Manager

Image of Dolf J.H. te Lintelo

Dolf J.H. te Lintelo

Research Fellow and Cities Cluster Leader

Image of Inka Barnett

Inka Barnett

Research Fellow

Image of Jaideep Gupte

Jaideep Gupte

Research Fellow

Image of Jean-Pierre Tranchant

Jean-Pierre Tranchant

Research Fellow

Image of Jorge Ortiz-Moreno

Jorge Ortiz-Moreno

Doctoral Researcher



Impact of Debt on Sustainable Reintegration Outcomes

Debt and migration can be linked in a host of ways. Debt or indebtedness itself may serve as a motivator for a person to migrate, migrants may use loans to finance cross-border travel, and remittances are often sent to repay household debt. A body of research already surrounds indebtedness,...


Big Data for Development Studies (BIDDS): An Innovative Methodology

This project seeks to make a foundational methodological contribution to the analysis of big data for development studies. Big data has revolutionised the natural sciences (and commerce), however its use within development studies has been comparatively limited. This is despite a clear...

Recent work


Resilience and Reintegration: Our Stories as Trafficking Survivors

This collection of stories was based on a research project to understand the experiences of reintegration among survivors of trafficking, what they think constitutes successful reintegration, and what they feel would best support them in their reintegration journeys. The research was conducted...

Image of Mina Chiang

Mina Chiang & 3 others

27 June 2022