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Gated communities, heterotopia and a “rights” of privilege: a ‘heterotopology' of the South African security-park

By Derek Hook and Michele Vrdoljak


This paper attempts a two-tiered analysis of what has come to be referred to as the ‘security-park', i.e., that South African variation of the ‘gated community' which combines Blakely and Snyder's [Fortress America: Gated communities in the United States, Brookings Institution Press, Washington, 1999] typically separable ‘lifestyle', ‘prestige' and ‘security zone' gated community types. The first part of this analysis reviews the existing literature on gated communities and relates it back to the South African situation. The second part, both theoretical and empirical, draws on Foucault's [Utopias and heterotopias, in: N. Leach (Ed.), Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory, Routledge, London, 1997] notion of the heterotopia, and on a variety of textual representations of Dainfern. The heterotopia, as an ‘analytics of difference' becomes a particularly important means of critique here, drawing attention to security-parks as: (1) possessing a precise and well-defined function within society (a function which typically coalesces around points of social crisis), (2) operating distinctive systems of admission and exclusion, (3) containing certain ‘juxtaposed incompatibilities' (of which a paradoxical ‘heterochroneity' is one of the most pronounced elements), (4) embodying – via the espousal of a certain ‘utopics' – an ‘alternate mode of social ordering' (in Hetherington's [The Badlands of Modernity: Heterotopia and Social Ordering, Routledge, New York, 1997] term). Each of these analytical strands constitutes a discursive relay through which one might deduce wider networks of social power or in the case of Dainfern or security-parks more generally, historical structures of the race- and class-structuring of privilege and poverty. Representations and practices of the security-park are in this way indicative of a far larger political rationality – a self-justificatory set of entitlements, warrants and exclusionary prerogatives which we have labelled a “rights” of privilege

Topics: HT Communities. Classes. Races, HM Sociology
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1016/S0016-7185(01)00039-2
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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