The perils of participatory discourse: Housing policy in postapartheid South Africa

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This article concerns the discursive use of community participation in processes of human settlement development. It focuses on South African housing policy, which expected to implement a people-centered policy through developer-driven strategies. Stressing two important conditions with respect to the conception and institutionalization of participatory processes, the paper examines the policy's failure in its participatory agenda, whereby contrary to its participatory rhetoric, communities and other actors have not established a positive or synergistic relationship, but rather one best defined by a zero-sum perspective: the private sector interests have hijacked the participatory discourse, and communities interests have been marginalized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-239
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Planning Education and Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003


  • Housing policy
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies


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