Changing Socio-Spatial Inequalities: Population change and the lived experience of inequality in urban South Africa

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Geography and Planning

Abstract

This project will provide an innovative analysis of how people's lived experiences of socio-economic inequality are shaped by the complex dynamics of urban change in South Africa and how such experiences in turn shape the country's urban social fabric. The proposed collaboration between the University of Liverpool (UoL), Southern African Social Policy Research Insights (SASPRI) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) comprises an inter-disciplinary team (Geography, Demography, Social Policy and Urban Planning) with complementary areas of expertise in relation to socioeconomic inequality and urban population change. The project relates to all four themes of the call but most strongly to the theme of diversity, migration and practice.

South Africa continues to be a deeply unequal society with markedly different standards of living across population groups (or race) and spatially. The current evidence base concerning inequality in South Africa is relatively small, and says little about the changing geographies of inequalities, the associated impacts which are felt on the ground as individuals' 'lived experience' of inequality, and consequences for the urban social fabric of the country. In this project quantitative and qualitative methods are combined to examine the interplay between urban spatial transformation and social attitudes towards inequality, attachment to place, and social inclusion.

The three-year research programme has four parts:
(i) Mapping the changing geographies of inequality across South Africa. Satellite imagery and the 1996, 2001 and 2011 Censuses will be analysed to generate population profiles across South Africa at small area level over time. Measures of spatial evenness and clustering will be generated to characterise the spatial context of areas.Areas where inequalities (variously defined) have increased will be identified using demographic, social, economic and ethnic/racial characteristics of areas. An area typology will be developed which will inform the identification of areas for the qualitative research in Part 2.
(ii) Focus groups will be undertaken to explore the factors and processes that shape people's experiences of inequality, and whether people's experiences of inequality affect their attachment to place and sense of social inclusion. Most groups will be undertaken within Cape Town, with a small number in the Eastern Cape Province due to its long-standing internal migration ties to Cape Town. This qualitative work will also feed back into the construction of new and improved quantitative spatial measures of the lived experience of inequality (Part 1).
(iii) Surveying people's experiences of inequality and their attitudes to inequality. A new module of inequality-related questions will be designed for inclusion in the 2017 round of the nationally representative South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS).Analysis of data collected through SASAS will provide an additional means of assessing the lived experience of inequalities and provide important dependent variables for Part 4.
(iv) Testing whether people's attitudes to inequality are associated with their experiences of inequality using new/refined dependent and independent variables in multilevel regression models. The quantitative spatial measures developed in Part 1 will be linked to the SASAS 2017 data to develop a more nuanced analytical appreciation of how inequality impacts on residents' lives and their attitudes about inequality and redress.

The results of this project will offer important new insights which will support national and local government when developing evidence-based policies to tackle inequality. It will enable policies in the areas of housing, urban planning and poverty alleviation to be informed by analysis of the lived experience of inequality, derived from an inter-play of highly context-specific qualitative enquiry and cutting-edge quantitative techniques.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?
The research findings will be of relevance to organisations (both government and non-government) who are concerned with understanding and alleviating socio-spatial inequalities. The innovative methodological techniques will be pertinent internationally for organisations that intend to undertake comparative analyses of geographic inequalities across different regions, or are concerned about the impact of the lived experience of inequality on societies, for example across the Southern African Development Community, and the BRICSA network. The policy recommendations will help inform evidence-based policy making decisions in government departments responsible for urban planning, housing and poverty alleviation, including the Department of Social Development, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Department of Human Settlements, the National Planning Commission, and the Neighbourhood Development Programme within the National Treasury. The research will also be of relevance to civil society organisations that support deprived and vulnerable groups as well as the South African Human Rights Commission. Networks developed with academia and government during the ESRC/NRF Pathfinder project (RES-238-25-0026) played an important role in shaping this current proposal and we will ensure that these (and other) key stakeholders are engaged from the outset of this new project.

How will they benefit from this research?
A major concern in the project will be to emphasize the social, economic and policy relevance of the findings. As such, the team will disseminate updates on the research at regular stages throughout the project. The provision of the outputs via the project website, along with guidance on how to implement the methods we will use, will enable those with an interest in inequalities to interrogate our results, to use them for their own research or to apply the methods in other national contexts and/or other time periods. The project outputs have the potential to increase the effectiveness of public services and policy in South Africa (for example, by better promoting social integration) and to enhance the quality of life for those in affected areas.

What will be done to ensure that beneficiaries will have the opportunity to benefit from this activity?
Outputs from the project will be available on the UoL, SASPRI and HSRC websites. Where appropriate, outputs will also be disseminated through the P>AN website. Appropriate use will be made of social media, particularly Twitter and LinkedIn which are used extensively amongst the academic and policy making community in South Africa. Regular seminars for key policy makers within government will be held under the auspices of the HSRC and telecast between the HSRC conference suites in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. Where possible, seminar/conference presentations will be recorded and uploaded to a project YouTube channel. Themed reports will be produced during the course of the project reflecting the major research themes (see case for support) and at the conclusion of the project these will be collated into an overall final project report. Policy briefing papers will be produced on aspects of the research themes, especially targeted at government and civil society. Policy briefs will be disseminated through well-established channels via HSRC. All project findings will be made available through a dedicated web site. A dissemination conference for government and civil society will be convened at the end of the project in Pretoria. The general public will be informed of the findings through press releases to the media.

Publications

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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/N014022/1 12/02/2016 31/07/2018 £422,422
ES/N014022/2 Transfer ES/N014022/1 01/11/2018 30/08/2019 £97,689
 
Description The research has provided an enhanced understanding of spatial inequalities in South Africa. A core strand of the research has been to generate maps of changing population and deprivation patterns through time. The team has made use of data from the 2001 and 2011 Censuses to create composite deprivation measures, incorporating information on income, education, employment, and living environment deprivation. These measures are provided for zones called wards for all South Africa and 100m by 100m grid squares for CapeTown. In addition, we have provided a novel assessment of the lived experience of inequalities via focus groups undertaken in Cape Town and new questions on inequalities in the South African Social Attitudes Survey.

The project outputs include a geographically-detailed assessment of changes in deprivation across South Africa (with more focused outputs for Cape Town specifically), with insight into spatial inequalities - differences in deprivation in neighbouring areas. The project team has undertaken analyses of the associations between measured inequalities and the lived experience of, and attitudes to, inequalities. As examples: do people living in areas which have high levels of deprivation compared to neighbouring areas think that taxes should be raised to help provide equal educational opportunities for all children; do people's perceptions of inequalities match well with measured levels of inequality?
Exploitation Route The findings and resources developed as outputs from the project could have considerable value in assessing interventions and designing new schemes to reduce deprivation and inequalities between areas within South Africa. The team has secured funding from the Queen's University Belfast ESRC Impact Accelerator Account and this new programme of work is taking outputs from this project and using them to assess local-level changes in deprivation and provide tailored guidance to local government in South Africa on how areas have changed and identifying schemes which may have contributed to those changes.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL https://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/GIS/Research/InequalitiesSA/
 
Description Our findings are informing development of future data resources in South Africa and we are in ongoing dialogue with central and local government departments about how our findings can be used to chart and understand changes in deprivation and inequalities in South Africa. Over the coming year, we will be developing our relationship with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) by co-designing guidance on the use of our project outputs for assessing past interventions and shaping new interventions.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description HSRC 
Organisation Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Country South Africa 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Liverpool provide key spatial analysis expertise in this collaborative project.
Collaborator Contribution HSRC provide expertise on data (and the South African Social Attitudes Survey in particular) and inequalities in South Africa.
Impact All outputs will be produced in collaboration with the HSRC.
Start Year 2016
 
Description SASPRI 
Organisation Southern African Social Policy Research Institute (SASPRI)
Country South Africa 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Liverpool team provide spatial analysis expertise to support this collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution SASPRI are project team members and they provide expertise on data and on inequalities in South Africa.
Impact All outputs will be in collaboration with SASPRI.
Start Year 2016
 
Description PopChange workshop in London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The PopChange project, recent research, and the web resource was introduced at a workshop at the University of Liverpool's London Campus on Monday 13th February. The event included an introduction to the project, discussion around research opportunities, and two practical sessions introducing the web resource. The event was attended by individuals from academia, national and local government and NGOs. The PI's project on inequalities in South Africa was also used as an example.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.clearmapping.co.uk/our-blog/item/473-popchange-workshop-at-university-of-liverpool-london...
 
Description Presentation at British Society for Population Studies Annual Conference 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The British Society for Population Studies Annual Conference includes delegates from academia, local government, and elsewhere. The paper introduced the project and detailed the latest work on population grid generation. The findings and methods led to detailed discussion following the talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/socialPolicy/Researchcentresandgroups/BSPS/annualConference/2017-Conference/Loc...
 
Description Presentation at Urban Transformations Workshop (Cape Town, 31st January 2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The paper introduced the research and presented some findings to date, drawing both on quantitative analyses and field work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.urbantransformations.ox.ac.uk/
 
Description Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) Annual International Conference 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The paper focused on the future of GeoComputation and alternative data sources for understanding population change. This included discussion of the PopChange project and research on spatial and social inequalities in South Africa. As a result of the paper, interest was expressed in expanding the research to other national contexts, and to the Czech Republic in particular.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/
 
Description UK Grids workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact PI Lloyd presented a summary of the PopChange project as part of a workshop on the future of population grids in the UK in London on 3rd February 2017. The workshop was run by the Office for National Statistics and was attended by individuals from the ONS, National Records of Scotland, Central Statistics Office (Ireland) and other central government bodies. PI Lloyd was the sole academic representative at the event. The PI's project on inequalities in South Africa was also used as an example.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017