Research on democracy has shed much light on two kinds of democratic politics: patterns of voting and patterns of associational or movement politics. But there is growing recognition that in order to better understand the quality or depth of democracy, we need to move beyond this dualistic focus to better understand the everyday practices through which citizens can effectively wield their rights; these practices often diverge from the formal equality enshrined in laws and constitutions. The researchers study this question through a large, unique sample survey carried out in a South Indian city. We find that effective citizenship is refracted through the institutional specificities of urban India and that, as a result, the poor access the state through political participation and the rich through particularistic connections to persons of influence. But unlike the conventional celebration of participation as a citizenship-deepening activity, we also find that a substantial part of participation is associated with forms of brokerage that compromise democratic citizenship.