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Does space and place matter? Perspectives from girls growing up in a Cape Town neighbourhood created under Apartheid

Year: 2005
Working paper number: 136
Author: Moses, Sue
Unit: SSU
Abstract:

With the advent of democracy in South Africa, space was legally de-racialised and people were no longer legally restricted to certain residential areas based on official racial classifications. Many areas, however, remain segregated along racial lines. This paper looks at how children and young people experience their 'neighbourhoods' and 'communities' in this broader context. It draws on the experiences and perspectives of South African girls living in an area called Ocean View, established under Apartheid for 'coloured' people who were forcibly removed from areas re-zoned 'white' on the South Peninsula of Cape Town. I examine ways in which girls' shape these environments as well as how physical and social features of their environments impact on their everyday lives, well-being and identity. I argue that children and young people in Ocean View lead everyday lives primarily bound within Ocean View and that the social, physical and economic environment within Ocean View means that they do not have access to all the resources they require and face challenges and obstacles which are not always easy to overcome. The kinds of mobility that regularly traverse Ocean View's borders do not foster the interpersonal links necessary for accessing space and resources not bound by class and race. By showing that neighbourhood characteristics often have both positive and negative effects on children's lives, I problematise the conception of 'high risk neighbourhoods' as leading to negative child outcomes, often utilised by neighbourhood studies and policies. I also highlight children's agency in dealing with the negative elements in their lives and suggest that building on these strategies (such as providing opportunities for young people to challenge prevailing stereotypes about Ocean View) may be an appropriate way of addressing some of the challenges faced by young people in the area.


Publication file: wp136.pdf
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