Inter-racial attitudes and interactions in racially-mixed low-income neighbourhoods in Cape Town, South Africa

Inter-racial attitudes and interactions in racially-mixed low-income neighbourhoods in Cape Town, South Africa

The importance of mixed-nighboured housing projects in South Africa

This paper examines South African communities who live in racially-integrated residential neighbourhoods. The paper illustrates that members of these communities consist of low-income coloured and African citizens, living in  state-subsidised housing. The houses were allocated through public housing projects so as to create a mixed neighbourhood. Thus, because the resident people did not choose to live in such environments, studying their inter-racial interactions helps to understand the possibility of transcending racial division in South African society.

The authors highlight a number of issues: language can be impediment to interaction; Muslims are often described as a different “race”; and the presence of African people makes the neighbourhood safer according to many coloured people. In addition, the document draws the following findings: 

  • residents of racially-integrated neighbourhoods retain a highly racialised discourse and subscribe to some racial stereotypes - generalisations reminiscent of the post-apartheid context endure
  • at the same time, however, a variety of positive inter-racial interactions occur, many positive signs of increased inter-racial tolerance and neighbourliness can be realised
  • in this respect, friendships form beyond people’s expectations, and relationships between people of different races have deepened through proximity
  • nevertheless, there is some evidence of racial tensions in these communities.

The authors conclude that whilst some racialised differences still exist, these are now, in part but not entirely, understood in terms of cultural diversity rather than social division.