Exploring the potential of the 'Right to the City' to integrate the vision and practice of civil society in the struggle for the socio-spatial transformation of South African cities


This conference paper presents research conducted in 2011 which investigated the applicability of the 'The Right to the City' discourse in South Africa. It focuses particularly on the potential of this discourse to be used as a "conceptual scaffolding" (Snow and Benford, 1988: 213) for a series of dialogues with the objective of consolidating an urban transformation agenda that draws upon the perspectives and experiences of the urban poor. After briefly making the case for the importance of the successful framing of social issues to advance social transformation, it provides a succinct overview of the key international elements of the Right to the City discourse and then outlines the distinct elements emerging from the South African dialogues. Finally, it discusses the strengths and weaknesses of such an approach to facilitating an inclusive process of dialogues about the need for urban transformation in South Africa.

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