Everyday politics and organisational ideals within urban informal settlements in Cape Town: Disciplining norms confronting urban individualism

While the political relations between politics citizens and states are continuously studies through analysing channels of participation (like political parties, ward systems or social movements), a growing body of literature suggest that more attention should be given to everyday politics and everyday practises of urban dwellers. Compared to visible politics like public protests and political negotiations, everyday politics and practises brings attention to how norms, discourses and identities, in less visible ways, inform urban politics. In this paper, I suggest two strategies for gaining insight into everyday politics within urban spaces: First, applying a social constructive analysis of the ideal organisational models promoted by residents within specific urban spaces. This implies that organisational models are understood as symbols rather than rational realities, reflecting contextual identities, norms and discourses. Secondly, giving attention to how rumour and gossip, as informal political practises, impact on political processes on the ground. These two strategies will be applied to an analysis of everyday politics within informal settlements in Cape Town, South Africa. The analysis highlight how informal settlements are particularly potent political spaces, where everyday politics reflect the classical tension of stabilizing or disciplining norms confronting urban individualism.

Laura Drivdal . University of Cape Town . Laura.Drivdal@myuct.ac.za

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