Power through social networks: A case study of urban farmers facing land development in Delhi, India

Jessica Ann Diehl, Jeremy Németh, Deborah S.K. Thomas, Mallika Bose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) recognizes community participation as an essential component of sustainable planning and development, but there are many challenges to engaging communities, particularly ensuring that marginalized voices are represented. Social networks play an important role in connecting populations who feel they lack power and influence and therefore remain vulnerable, hidden, or dismissed by the powers that be. Yet the mechanisms of social networks are not well understood. This research investigated a group of marginalized farmers facing land development in Delhi, India to understand how social networks impacted their planning participation and livelihood strategies. Employing a mixed-methods approach including semi-structured interviews with 121 farming households, this paper describes how farmers exchanged knowledge and resources through social networks; beliefs and behaviours related to land use planning; and livelihood strategies in response to land development. Households with strong social networks were more likely to report detailed livelihood strategies and had three times the odds of believing they had an influence on land use planning and development compared to households with weaker social networks. Unsurprisingly, more households overall had what we define as “weak” social networks, believed they had no or minimal influence on land use planning and development, and gave vague livelihood strategies in case of development. This research uncovers ways that social networks can impact agency within a community and in the planner-public nexus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102626
JournalHabitat International
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Urban Studies


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