‘Joburg has its own momentum’: Towards a vernacular theorisation of urban change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article demonstrates and advocates the importance of theoretical frameworks which allow for nuance and complexity. Moving away from fixed ways of reading and analysing processes of urban renewal (such as gentrification, revanchism, neoliberal urbanism), it seeks to show how a diversity of imperatives and agendas are present and shape moments of urban change and the practices of actors involved in these. Drawing on research conducted in inner-city Johannesburg which focussed on private-sector-led regeneration, housing provision and security, it demonstrates that the process underway is characterised by a multiplicity of goals and practices. Regeneration is formulated within a neoliberal paradigm, yet through creative strategies and interventions is also achieving developmental goals and expanding the provision of affordable, centrally-located housing. The article details the strategies adopted by organisations specialising in financing social and affordable housing and demonstrates the ways in which these emphasise and are helping to achieve the expansion of housing provision to low-income households. It further discusses the habitus of housing providers in the inner-city and shows how these have been influenced by and respond to the developmental challenges and racial transformation which characterise the area. It thus demonstrates that local contexts, concerns and agendas influence the regeneration process and that putatively global processes such as gentrification, revanchism and neoliberal urbanism, whilst still relevant, need to be used in ways which allow for alternative, vernacular narratives and explanations to emerge too.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1280-1296
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number5
Early online date9 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • development
  • gentrification
  • Johannesburg
  • neoliberalism
  • vernacular theorisation


Dive into the research topics of '‘Joburg has its own momentum’: Towards a vernacular theorisation of urban change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this