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Personal profile


Taru holds a BSc in Politics from the University of Helsinki and an MA from the University of Salford. She received a distinction for her MA in International Relations and Globalisation, with her dissertation focusing on the Occupy movement. Prior to starting her PhD, Taru has worked in both public and non-governmental organisations in research based roles, which help inform her ambitions to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

PhD Project

My research project looks at the role of informal social networks in urban development. This means focusing on the organic forms of participation and social support that function between families, friends and neighbours. Inspired by one of the megacities in Latin America, Mexico City, I compare the social support processes linked to urbanisation with the existing support networks of a disadvantaged area in Iztapalapa. I hope to build and understanding of how people rely on each other in order to deal with everyday challenges; what enables or hinders social support; and to what extent there is a relationship between informal social networks and development. This complex research project is guided by post-development thinking and buen vivir, as I seek alternatives to development.

Research Interests

Development studies

Participatory development

Urban studies

Social injustice

Social networks

Collective action


Latin America



  • HT Communities. Classes. Races
  • Social support
  • Community development
  • HM Sociology
  • Networks
  • JZ International relations
  • Development studies
  • Latin America

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