ABSTRACT Following a brief sketch of the shift within development geography from rural to urban themes, this paper examines Nijman's description and analysis of Mumbai's slums. This is characterised by a historical and geographical stratification, with an emphasis on the congruence of economic and social geography in Dharavi. His analysis is conducted primarily at the community level. In this commentary the reader's attention is drawn to the livelihood strategy approach, which originated from the rural context but is also relevant in the slum setting. Such an approach could be useful in documenting the dynamic of slums and of the households that inhabit them. But households are just one of the actors in this struggle for space. Also making an appearance are public authorities, NGOs and businesses, each with a claim to the same space. At the same time, the struggle is played out at several levels and is imbedded in the local situation, which makes comparative and longitudinal research an interesting way to define the place of slums and their inhabitants.