Tenure and vulnerability: the effects of changes to tenure security on the identity and social relationships of the urban poor

Patel, Kamna (2012). Tenure and vulnerability: the effects of changes to tenure security on the identity and social relationships of the urban poor. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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Directed by the Millennium Development Goal to improve the lives of at least 100 million ‘slum’ dwellers by 2020, national governments and development agencies are driving policy to upgrade and formalise informal settlements. This study is an investigation into the effects of in situ upgrade and formalisation on the vulnerability and resilience of the urban poor in Durban, South Africa. The study examines the relationships between tenure and vulnerability by identifying and exploring how changes to tenure security, introduced through the upgrade process, affect individuals’ exposure to risk and ability to cope, and the ways in which identity and social relations influence those effects. The data are drawn from twenty-four ethnographies of residents living in three low income settlements in/around Durban each at different stages in the upgrade process. The findings of the study show that many residents are better off following an upgrade – ownership claims are better protected, they are more comfortable in their homes and able to improve livelihoods. However, these security and resilience gains are undermined by the high levels of crime and violence that continue post-upgrade and affect the desirability of a location and the ability of people to live there. Furthermore, the manner in which the process is implemented reconfigures local power relations, without meaningfully altering them; thus continuing to tie residents’ wellbeing to social rules administered by informal institutions. These findings challenge conceptualisations of ‘tenure security’ and the conventional orthodoxy of upgrading.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Department of International Development
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/3267


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