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Attitudes towards foreigners in informal settlements targeted for upgrading in South Africa: A Gendered Perspective

Ndinda, C and Ndhlovu, TP (2016) Attitudes towards foreigners in informal settlements targeted for upgrading in South Africa: A Gendered Perspective. Agenda, 30 (2). ISSN 1013-0950

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Abstract

Using intersectionality as the organising theoretical framework, this article argues that the attitudes of informal settlement residents towards foreigners are complex, varied and moulded by a multiplicity of factors. Gender intersects in complex ways with social class, space (urban/rural) and political/ideological leanings, among other variables, to shape attitudes. The socially constructed characterisation results in inclusion or exclusion. Indeed, the attitudes held by individuals and groups depend on social and economic positioning as well as the spaces they occupy within the urban/rural/class divides. This serves to explain reticence, denialism and/or justification of violence by different groups in informal settlements, and the distinctions between males and females, and between employers and workers. Therefore, the argument put forward by this article is that attitudes of informal settlement dwellers (as distinct from slum dwellers) in South Africa towards foreigners, and the resulting unequal outcomes, are explicable from multiple forms of oppression, advantage and disadvantage, and hegemonic power structures. These attitudes are dynamic over time. They are fashioned by interconnections and kinship ties between citizens and foreigners. In addition, contestations over resources and opportunity, as well as notions of identity and citizenship, play a part in how the former view the latter. Crucially, gender intersects with social class and region to form the attitudes that are displayed by citizens towards foreigners in South Africa.

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