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Type Report
Title The social consequences of establishing ‘mixed’ neighbourhoods: Does the mechanism for selecting beneficiaries for low-income housing projects affect the quality of the ensuing ‘community’ and the likelihood of violent conflict?
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
Publisher Centre for Social Science Research
City Cape Town
Country/State South Africa
The post-apartheid state has, through the provision of subsidies, fuelled a massive expansion of formal, low-income housing in South African towns and cities. The new public housing neighbourhoods are, however, as segregated racially as their apartheid-era predecessors. Whilst the relative importance of different reasons for the reproduction of racial segregation might be unclear, it is clear that the adoption of different procedures for allocating new housing would result in neighbourhoods that are more diverse or mixed in terms of race and other characteristics. Adopting new procedures and creating more mixed neighbourhoods might have undesirable social, economic and political consequences. Mixed neighbourhoods might be characterized by social tensions and conflict, weak social capital, and hence economic disadvantage and political problems. The Department of Housing and Local Government in the provincial government of the Western Cape commissioned research into the social consequences of establishing more mixed neighbourhoods. ‘Mixed’ was understood as including both racial mixing, and mixing in terms of ‘community of origin’, i.e. of the neighbourhood from which beneficiaries had come. The literature review (in Chapter 2) found that most existing studies have focused on single cases rather than comparative analysis. The reanalysis of quantitative data (in Chapter 3) found that there is some variation in the measurable quality of community, as reported by residents. This picture was broadly corroborated in the qualitative research (reported in Chapter 5). Our research in the small towns of Robertson and Malmesbury suggested that the quality of community seems higher there than in Cape Town, but otherwise we found the same general picture. Whilst there has been little racial mixing, there is little evidence to
suggest that more rapid or widespread mixing would have any undesirable consequences.

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