Johannesburg: Repetitions and Disruptions of Spatial Patterns

Richard Ballard, Christian Hamann, Thembani Mkhize

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter revisits the analysis of Johannesburg’s segregated history by Parnell and Pirie published three decades ago, in the year that the 1950 Group Areas Act was repealed (1991). For much of the twentieth century, Johannesburg was formally divided into an inner-city for white occupation, suburbs for white occupation mainly to the north and south east of the city centre and townships for black, Indian and coloured residents mainly to the south of the city. From the 1980s, a number of processes have disrupted these configurations: the inner city and some of the more affordable suburbs have become primarily black; middle class and elite former white suburbs have become more racially mixed; some government housing programmes have introduced low-cost housing to well-located areas and some informal settlements have been established close to middle-class suburbs. Alongside these disruptions, many ongoing spatial processes reinforce inherited patterns: most informal settlements have been established far away from affluent areas and often near to townships, townships have become denser through backyard rental accommodation, and many government housing programmes have extended apartheid-era townships. Crucially, the relative position of areas with more expensive properties has not changed over time—they remain relatively more expensive. Johannesburg’s large population of working class residents, who are overwhelmingly black, are financially excluded from middle-class and elite suburbs, a process which reproduces some of apartheid’s spatial patterns even in the absence of formal segregation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGeoJournal Library
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameGeoJournal Library
ISSN (Print)0924-5499
ISSN (Electronic)2215-0072

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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