Contemporary urbanization in the Global South merits greater attention from scholars of comparative politics. Governance, associational life, and political behavior take distinctive forms in the social and institutional environments created by rapid urbanization, particularly within informal settlements and labor markets. In this special issue, we examine forms of collective action and claims-making in these spaces. We also consider how the state assesses, maps, and responds to the demands of informal sector actors. Tackling questions of citizen and state behavior in these informal urban contexts requires innovative research strategies due to data scarcity and social and institutional complexity. Contributors to this symposium offer novel strategies for addressing these challenges, including the use of informal archives, worksite-based sampling, ethnographic survey design, enforcement process-tracing, and crowd-sourced data.