Between the (in)formal and the (il)legal : the 'permanent temporariness' of waiting for a house

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

In Cape Town, 400 000 households are waiting for housing from the state. This thesis explores the everyday lived realities that waiting for housing entails: what waiting means to housing applicants, what living in temporary accommodation solutions for the long-term entails, and how these effects of waiting shape citizens' perceptions and encounters with the state. This research, conducted through open-ended, qualitative interviews provides a detailed and in-depth understanding of not only the everyday material and social experiences of waiting for housing and life in temporary accommodation, but also the types of encounters that citizens have with the state in relation to housing given the circumstances in which they wait. These narratives of waiting provide a detailed and nuanced understanding of the 'permanent temporariness' (Yiftachel, 2009a; 2009b) that waiting entails given the often difficult circumstances in which people live while waiting for housing, in overcrowded council houses, backyard shacks and informal settlements. Situated in the 'gray spaces' (Yiftachel, 2009a; 2009b) that exist between legal and illegal and formal and informal, housing applicants live in a state of 'betweenness' (Perramond, 2001) materially, socially, emotionally and politically. This 'betweenness', the core of the relationship between citizens and the state, produces a particular encounter with the state in relation to housing. This 'gray' encounter encompasses the varied ways housing applicants choose to interact with, and against, the state to access housing.

Includes bibliographical references.