‘Pretending to Be Poor’: Social Mobility and Government Policy in Township Housing
Reviewed by Veniamin Gushchin
October 23, 2014
““Pretending to Be Poor”: Social Mobility and Government Policy in Township Housing” describes the state of housing in the township of Langa, South Africa. It begins by describing the socio-economic history of South African townships, largely dominated by racial politics and the lingering aftereffects of apartheid. The paper then proceeds to discuss the lack of quality in the government-subsidized housing.
This dissatisfaction is blatant in the interviews that the author conducted with representatives of the community. The interviews are the most interesting part of the paper as they provide unadulterated insight into the inadequate living conditions of the citizens of Langa. The interviews are supplemented with photographs of the dwellings of the South Africans, which are perfect visual representations of the subject matter.
In addition to describing the existing state of housing, the paper discusses the creative solutions that citizens of Langa use to ameliorate their living situations. This is particularly inspiring and effective in demonstrating the resolution of the human spirit and the infinite resource and adaptability of mankind. The constant innovation of the citizens to attempt to survive in their unforgiving environment is evidence of their ability to work within a system that is not meant to be helpful or beneficial for them.
The paper concludes without providing serious policy suggestions. However, because this is a sociology paper rather than a political science one, this is a perfectly acceptable state of affairs. The author correctly states that identifying the issue is a necessary aspect of solving it. Acknowledging that the housing of the Langa Township is not ideal in any way, as it forces citizens to perform gymnastics of innovation to survive in them, is a significant step in fixing the problems that plague the society. The paper is effective in delivering these points to the reader, making him or her more aware of the issue.
View the full paper here!