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Participatory Planning and the Global South: A Case Study of Local Planning and Development in Vrygrond

By Craig Davies

Abstract

Includes bibliographical references.Urbanisation is occurring most rapidly in the global South, where cities are characterised by increasing levels of poverty, socio-spatial inequality, and informality. Mainstream planning theories have tended to originate from the North, responding to a context that differs greatly from that of cities of the South where theories have been uncritically adopted and imposed. State planning systems in developing countries often reflect traditional technocratic approaches and have become increasingly disengaged from rapidly changing urban conditions. In a context in which neoliberalism is becoming increasingly hegemonic, such planning systems may serve the interests of capital over the needs of the poor. There has therefore been a call to focus on developing descriptive and explanatory theories through case research from which new and more contextually appropriate approaches to planning might emerge. I offer the case of Vrygrond as a contribution to this ongoing endeavour to ‘theorize from the South’, regrounding planning theory and practice in the realities and complexities of global South contexts. The case study explores the nature of development in the densely populated, low-income settlement in Cape Town, from 1997 to 2014. The main research question asks how services, public facilities and amenities have been secured in Vrygrond, and how planning theory and practice might learn from this experience. The dissertation therefore draws on semi-structured interviews to understand the interaction between development processes adopted by key actors and contextual factors which include racial and ethnic diversity, power struggles, oppositional forms of citizenship, mistrust, and pervasive crime. The findings are then interpreted through the application of three contrasting theoretical frameworks of technocratic planning, communicative and collaborative planning, and co-production. I argue that the assumptions underlying technocratic and communicative planning are problematic in the context of Vrygrond, and that co-production might be better placed to respond to a lack of access to public facilities as well as a broader sense of disempowerment and marginalization. Recommendations include institutional rearrangements that might foster a social context that would be more receptive to co-production. I call attention to the nature of citizenship in postapartheid communities, to social difference and power relations, and to the impact of crime and gangsterism on local governance, as important considerations for participatory planning approaches such as co-production

Topics: Architecture, Planning and Geomatics
Publisher: School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics
Year: 2014
OAI identifier: oai:open.uct.ac.za:11427/13047
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