The Struggle to Belong: Middle Classing and Social Change in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Letsoko, Vuyiswa and Naidoo, Kammila and Gumbo, Trynos (2022) The Struggle to Belong: Middle Classing and Social Change in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Mobility, Knowledge and Innovation Hubs in Urban and Regional Development. Proceedings of REAL CORP 2022, 27th International Conference on Urban Development, Regional Planning and Information Society. pp. 831-841. ISSN 2521-3938

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The social and urban landscape in Johannesburg has been profoundly influenced by its’ legacy of colonial and apartheid rule. Apartheid legislation such as the Group Areas Act of 1950 significantly embodied apartheid at an urban scale as it segregated and policed social space on the basis of racial classification where large numbers of people classified as native (also referred to as African, bantu or black), Indian (or Asian) and coloured were relocated to planned settlements to the periphery of cities and leaving the inner city and many areas to the north, east and west as white residential zones. The demise of apartheid and its administration in 1994 has resulted in Johannesburg becoming more racially integrated over time. Conversely, the democratic era has also been associated with a change in the class structure in the country, in particular, the growth of the black middle class. There is no longer always a direct relationship between race and income which means that black, Indian and coloured people are able to live in former white areas and neighbourhoods. Given the rise of crime and violence in the city, residential gated communities have been seen as the common housing option for middle- and upper-class social groups of the country. These developments were initially proliferated by mainly white groups in society, however changes in class dynamics in the country have resulted in growth of the black middle class living within these spaces, therefore creating racially integrated residential pockets in the city. The lived experiences of the black middle class within these spaces, remains under-researched. The study employs a qualitative thematic exploration through the use of in-depth interviews with a group of black middle-class residents residing in two South African residential gated communities in Johannesburg to unpack the politics of belonging to the community and the pressures and complexities of gated living and how that impacts identity formation and self-realisation. The interview data indicated the negative impacts of stereotype threat as black residents live with the historical legacy of being viewed as part of an inferior race. The findings outline various strategies that black residents employ to reaffirm their belonging to the community. Furthermore, the results provide a multi-layered analysis of race, identity, difference, space and place in a post-apartheid urban setting. The study makes recommendation for the decolonisation of privatised residential communities to create more inclusive and cohesive communities.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: South Africa, class, social change, black middle class, belonging
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Depositing User: The CORP Team
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2022 17:50
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2022 14:06

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