Managing urban (neighbourhood) change for whom? : investigating the everyday practices of building managers in eKhaya neighbourhood CID Hilbrow South

Mkhize, Thembani
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A response to socio-economic issues (crime, disinvestment) and management-related problems (grime) in Johannesburg’s urban neighbourhoods; Residential City Improvement Districts (RCIDs) are seen as a powerful strategy on the road to socio-politico-economic prosperity for inner city areas, and are thus increasingly being implemented. Having led to the renovation/regeneration of public furniture – ‘sanitised’ lanes, upgraded pavements characterised by surveillance cameras and functional lighting – and attraction of business; RCIDs such as Hillbrow’s eKhaya appear to slowly but surely be reconfiguring perceptions of inner city neighbourhoods as ‘slums’ and/or ‘no-go crime hot spots’. Yet in so far as RCIDs appear to be effecting positive urban neighbourhood change, their impacts on the (‘inside’ management of) buildings comprising them still remain to be seen. Using the interesting case of eKhaya Neighbourhood CID Hillbrow South – a ‘voluntary’ RCID which is arguably the first of its kind in a densely populated low-income urban neighbourhood – this research focused on the relationship between internal building management and external public space management in inner city Johannesburg’s RCIDs. The study was particularly concerned with uncovering the extent to which norms and rules governing eKhaya’s public space may infiltrate the governance/politics of the internal building governance and/or supervision. In attempting to do this, the study used the eKhaya RCID building caretakers/managers – in their capacity as transmission belts and brokers between RCID drivers (property owners, RCID coordinators) and tenants - as its primary objects. Drawing from, among others, the Foucauldian concept of ‘Neoliberal Governmentality’, Lipsky’s ‘Street-Level Bureaucracy’and Olivier de Sardan’s ‘Practical Norms’; the study made use of housing supervisors’ daily micro-practices to uncover the extent to which rules and norms governing eKhaya are internalised, appropriated, negotiated, bent, and resisted within – and around - residential buildings constituting eKhaya RCID
Research report submitted to the School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand, March 2014, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Urban Studies. Supervised by Professor Claire Benit-Gbaffou.