Globalisation/commodification or deglobalisation/decommodification in urban South Africa

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28 Citations (Scopus)


The main trends in contemporary South African urban policy were set before the end of apartheid, when market logic was adopted with the assistance of the World Bank. Once in power, the African National Congress amplified this logic in several crucial respects, as witnessed in the 1994 housing and 1998 municipal government policies. Those policies failed to address long-standing deficiencies in housing finance, services provision, land distribution, residential segregation and the like. The government is, hence, dealing an intense popular backlash partly characterised by 'IMF Riot' reactions, and partly by highly organised, ideologically sophisticated, sustained resistance. The protests began in earnest in 1997, but in 1999 began to take an organisational form that may ultimately presage a new political party. The style, rhetoric and programme of the urban protests are consistent with other international movements associated with the 'decommodification' of services and the 'deglobalisation' of capital. One result of the backlash, in 2000, was the government's election-time promise of 'free basic services' to municipal residents. However, as witnessed in the case of Johannesburg, the turn from neoliberalism is not complete, and struggles continue over services disconnections, pre-paid meters and the shape of water tariffs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-358
Number of pages22
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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