Briefing Paper no.10. Insecurity, Identity and Gated Communities.


Based on Working Paper No. 10: Jo Beall, 'The people behind the walls: insecurity, identity and gated communities in Johannesburg.' It is intended to provide a summary of the principal findings, and an indication of the implications these may have for debates over policy.

In Johannesburg, as in Los Angeles (California's most divided city), there is a collective paranoia about 'security'. However, in Johannesburg it is not only the wealthy who find ways to barricade themselves behind protective barriers. Gated communities can also be found in socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods. This paper explores this, and the ways in which voluntary self-exclusion may be serving to undermine efforts by the city's progressive planners to challenge the apartheid legacy of socio-spatial segregation. It draws on two sets of fieldwork: one among the multi-racial but still mainly white residents of two gated communities in Johannesburg; the other among the mainly isiZulu-speaking migrants of a hostel complex in Soweto. The analysis is set against an account of the realities and perceptions of crime and public safety in Johannesburg, a city renowned as a national 'crime capital'. The relationship between space and social identity is explored, as is how both are mediated by who you are and where you are. The paper concludes with a comment on what these trends mean for urban governance.


Briefing Paper no.10. Insecurity, Identity and Gated Communities, 2003, London, UK; Crisis States Research Centre, 2 pp.

Briefing Paper no.10. Insecurity, Identity and Gated Communities.

Published 1 January 2003