Surveillance and Control: the Regulation of Everyday Behaviour under Covid-19 in South African Cities

Letsoko, Vuyiswa and Makoni, Eric (2022) Surveillance and Control: the Regulation of Everyday Behaviour under Covid-19 in South African Cities. 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. 725-731. ISSN 2521-3938

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On 5 March 2020 the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported the first case of COVID-19 in South Africa. Since then, COVID-19 has caused unprecedented shifts in every sector of urban and social life and has reminded us of the critical role cities play in global health governance whilst also revealing their vulnerabilities when hit by an unknown virus. Cities have proved to be particularly vulnerable to the virus given their high population rates as well as socio-economic activity. As many parts of the globe continue to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis, researchers from various disciplines are constantly working to shed more light on the pandemic. Although a large share of this research is focused in the medical field, the dynamics of the pandemic and its impacts on cities has started to receive significant attention. In this paper, we reflect on how the state used various technologies of power to regulate and control everyday urban practices during COVID-19. In its endeavor to control the virus, the state was compelled to arguably radically infringe on people’s everyday activities; from the food they could purchase and consume, to spaces where they could congregate, right through to the manner and fashion at which they could worship, and even bury their loved ones. While this was warranted given the urgent need to curb the virus, we argue that these actions have the potential of transforming the manner by which cities are governed. This is particularly so in highly unequal cities where the chasm between the wealthy and the poor has been made gravely stark by the pandemic. Cities might have to find that they have to expand their social security nets further, given the near collapse of the informal economy and the subsequent growth in poverty and unemployment.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Regulations and Behaviour, South Africa, COVID-19, Urban inequality, Townships
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Depositing User: The CORP Team
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2022 13:31
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2022 13:51

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