Academic journal article The Geographical Review

The Coproduction of Peri-Urban Space

Academic journal article The Geographical Review

The Coproduction of Peri-Urban Space

Article excerpt

The breakdown and shift of social, political, economic, and geographic structures of apartheid have contributed to dramatic change throughout the South African landscape since the late 1980s. In many cases, they also resulted in a massive influx of people to the cities. The end of apartheid enhanced the mobility and political freedom of black South Africans, and empowered many to move out of Bantustans and townships into formerly white areas. (1) Through this process, local landscapes were transformed by changing livelihood strategies and land-cover patterns just outside of cities, manifest in the growth of peri-urban space. Peri-urban is often broadly defined as a confluence of urban and rural processes, blending elements of both urban and rural livelihoods and land use practices (Simon 2008). The coproduction framework maintains that there are not specific drivers of this change, but rather through a combination of social processes, land use, and livelihoods are coproduced by material realities (point of bodily being) and discursive formations (ways of representing the world) as individuals seek to address the challenges of everyday life (McCusker and Carr 2006; David Harvey 1996). In this context, livelihoods and land use are intertwined in a dialectical relationship that produces peri-urban spaces; in this case study, rural conceptions of livelihoods and urban land use patterns coproduce space as a material outcome of the ways in which individuals negotiate the challenges of everyday life (McCusker and Carr 2006; Harvey 1996).

Identifying the processes that contribute to peri-urban growth through coproduction is an important component of understanding the changing urban patterns and structures of postapartheid South Africa and redressing the persistent poverty that remains. In order to fully understand the context of the coproduction of peri-urban space, I first briefly review livelihood and land use literatures separately, and then engage the coproduction thesis as a way of illustrating how these concepts are actually intertwined to argue for a dialectical approach to the coproduction of peri-urban space.

Peri-urban growth in South Africa is characterized by both formal and informal housing expansion, but serious concerns arise over a lack of services: water, sanitation, transportation networks, unemployment/underemployment of residents, and adequate policing. Additionally, households in peri-urban areas, on average, have smaller incomes and many can be classified as ultrapoor. Understanding the processes that contribute to these challenges and simultaneously encourage people to move to peri-urban areas is the focus of this research. By examining local livelihoods and land use patterns, as well as the institutions and policies influencing those patterns, I hope to facilitate a more complex understanding of the material production, or coproduction, of peri-urban areas. I identify several key processes, which each contribute to the coproduction of land use and livelihoods: local and regional governance, planning policy, changes in local labor relations, national and global economic policy and processes, and local land use limitations.

ENGAGING THE LIVELIHOODS FRAMEWORK

In order to understand the material conditions of poverty, as well as the potential pathways individuals and households can use to foster more effective policy for poverty amelioration, livelihoods approaches were developed in the 1990s (De Haan 2012). Drawing on the well-recognized work of Robert Chambers and Gordon Conway (1991) many researchers in the social sciences and geography (Ellis 2000; Oberhauser and others 2004; Carr 2008; Scoones 1998, 2009) argued for a more holistic and complex approach to understanding the "web of activities and interactions that emphasizes the diversity of ways people make a living" (Scoones 2009, 172). Using a livelihoods approach goes beyond mere income poverty and begins to examine the social relationships that also play a part in continued poverty and potential poverty reduction (Rakodi 2002). …

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