chapter  11
18 Pages

Social Differentiation and Urban Governance in Greater Soweto: A Case Study of Postapartheid Meadowlands

When Meadowlands, a township in Greater Soweto, was first estab-lished during the 1950s, the population was fairly homogeneous. As a result of the sustained economic upswing during the 1960s, a number, but not all, township residents experienced upward occupational mobility. Social differentiation increased even further over the 1980s and early 1990s. Some residents benefited from the drive toward encouraging homeownership, whereas many others simply fell foul of persistent structural poverty and rising unemployment levels. Social differentiation looks to continue with some Meadowlands’s residents benefiting from the deracialization processes accompanying the end of apartheid. Many others, by contrast, constitute the “new poor,” victims of economic reform measures and adverse changes in labor market opportunities. According to the 1996 Census, 70% of Meadowlands’s population over 15 years of age earn either nothing at all or under R500 a month; only 12% have incomes of more than R3,500 per month. Although a small number of professionals are service workers (such as teachers and nurses), only 49% of the economically active population is formally employed. Of these (see Table 1), the largest numbers are in crafts and trades and elementary occupations.