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The spatiality of informal sector agency: Planning, survival and geography in Black Metropolitan Cape Town.

Dierwechter, Yonn (2001) The spatiality of informal sector agency: Planning, survival and geography in Black Metropolitan Cape Town. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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One of the most significant urban phenomena over the past thirty years has been the rapid, widespread and originally unanticipated growth of informal sector activities. While it is now recognised that such activities have substantially transformed cities across the world, their urban geographies remain under-studied, especially in the fast-changing South and with special reference to planning practice. This thesis addresses this surprisingly large lacuna through a detailed account of the planning for, and survival within, Black Metropolitan Cape Town's informal food distribution system. The discussion shows that, to date, this planning experience has proven profoundly difficult and uneven, notwithstanding the relatively progressive nature of the interventions themselves. Why, exactly. Why has this particular experience been so difficult. More, why has it been so uneven. Where has it succeeded, where has it failed, and in what sense. Finally, what can we learn more generally from these successes and failures. Extant theorisations of informal sector development planning emphasise class, state or land use variables. Rather than argue "against" these variables, this thesis argues "across" them (and others), hypothesizing the importance of the configurations - the spatialities - that dialectically connect various scales of heterogeneous relations. It is not simply that "space matters"; it is that the constitution of how space is actually produced in real places matters. Ultimately, this thesis explores the implications of this spatial hypothesis for planning theory and practice and for informal sector development. The discussion is advanced through a framework of theoretical inquiry derived principally from the work of Henri Lefebvre, Bruno Latour and Michel de Certeau. Specifically, the narrative architecture of the thesis is built around Lefebvre's central claim that urban space is "produced" through three, intimately related modalities or "moments" - representations of space, spatial practices and representational spaces. Investigating each of these moments in succession, but also binding them together, the discussion deploys Latour's "constructivist" ontology of the actor-network as a central analytical and metaphorical device. More, de Certeau's attention to strategies, tactics and the local state's attempt to capture and direct "belief" is also used to explore the developmental geographies associated with planning and survival as major empirical processes shaping the post-apartheid city.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Social Structure and Development, South African Studies, Black Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Geography and Environment

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