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Since last year more than half of the world's population lives in cities and towns. Urbanization has been a particular rapid process in developing countries, as poor peasants have been pushed out of agriculture and went to seek employment and other livelihood opportunities in the cities. In most developing countries, formal urban employment has not grown at the same pace as the urban economically actie population. As a result, the informal sector has become the principal domain for livelihood and survival of the urban poor. Yet, informality is not restricted to the structuring of wage labour and small enterprise; it also marks other dimensions of the life of the urban poor and excluded: social networks, grass roots movements, political participation, and security. The lecture will first give an overview of this process of informalization in the cities of the South. Then, the lecturer will make an argument for qualitative and ethnographic research methods being a particularly suitable tool to conduct research on urban informality. Kees will use illustrations from four specific topical fields: wage work and microenterprise, housing and service provision, social movements and political participation, and violence and insecurity.