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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Diane Kayongo-Male


Using a hybrid theoretical framework combining Lefebvre’s theory of production of space, and de Certeau’s everyday theory specifically the concepts, “strategies” and “tactics”; and several conceptual ideas developed by Southern urbanists like AbdouMaliq Simone; and Asef Bayat, this study investigated the following research questions: how do boda boda riders perceive, experience, and use (appropriate) space; how is their use of space influenced by the way their industry and city are organized; how is their use of space influenced by relationships among them, and, between them, the state, and other consumers of space; and what are the outcomes of these processes? Eighteen semistructured interviews and fourteen ride-alongs were conducted with riders. Fifteen key informants including 5 traffic police officers, 9 leaders of riders’ associations and 1 official of Kampala City Council Authority were interviewed. These methods were augumented by documentary reviews, observations and informal consultations. Results show that production of space by riders involves the production of liminal identities and spaces. Technology, modalities of ownership and contractual arrangements, riders’ biography, design and quality of the city’s abstract space, and riders’ calculative mentality, among other factors, influenced the way riders used space. Riders perceived space, specifically the city’s space as a space of livelihood formation, possibilities and xvi spectacle. The city was also parsed a contested space and laboratory of learning; these perceptions reflected riders’ experiences of space as an arena of order and disorder, social marginalization, and theatre of learning. A compendium of practices and tactics pertaining to creating, accessing, and maintaining space; movement; and entrepreneurship was documented. Relationships between riders were mediated mainly by reciprocity of action. While riders conflicted, the level of animosity among them was less compared to that between them, pedestrians and motorists. “Politics of Noise” and “Silence” characterized relationships between riders and the state, and were emblematic of the urban politics of Kampala. Furthermore, the state insinuated itself in space via “carrot” and “stick” policing strategies. These strategies in turn invoked tactics and practices like protests, petitioning and violence or the “politics of noise,” hence they were dialectical. All facets of this research were wrought with contradictions as explicated in Lefebvre’s theory. Results also supported Michel de Certeau’s concepts and those of Southern urbanists. Ideas from the Global South contextualized the findings, making them more relevant. Overall, production of space by riders underscores the imbrication of formality with informality, and co-mingledness of micro, meso and macro processes and structures.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Urban transportation--Uganda--Kampala
Sociology, Urban
Space and time


Includes bibliographical references (pages 523-551)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright