Divergent and similar experiences of 'gating' in South Africa: Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town
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Type of Workapplication/pdf
DepartmentTowson University, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice
Citation of Original PublicationLemanski C, Landman K, Durington M. Divergent and Similar Experiences of ‘Gating’ in South Africa: Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Urban Forum. 2008;19(2):133-158. doi:10.1007/s12132-008-9030-0.
Private residential territories
The last 20 years has witnessed an explosion not only in the growth of private residential territories throughout the world, but also in the literature addressing them. The majority of research is centred on experiences in the United States and Latin America (although studies elsewhere are increasing) and suffers from a tendency to homogenise the processes and consequences of gating as synonymous whether experienced in Los Angeles, New York, Mexico City or São Paulo. Whilst axiomatic to state the unlikelihood of identical trends in such differing contexts, the absence of such a statement in the literature is significant. This paper addresses the social and spatial phenomenon of residential gated communities in three of South Africa’s major cities: Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Detailed background and discussion regarding the development and experience of ‘gating’ in each city is analysed, emphasising the uniqueness of each city’s gating experience. These indications, that gating is not a universal experience despite some common themes, serve to counter the homogenous discourse in both popular and academic parlance throughout the world and within South Africa. In addition, particular concerns related to the growth of residential forms based on exclusion and privatisation within the South African context, are considered. In essence, we conclude that while ‘gating’ may be an individually rational decision in the context of South Africa’s growing crime, its collective consequences produce a divided city, at odds with post-apartheid ideals of unity and equality.