Changing Social Fabric
It is frequently said that a city’s greatest asset is its people. In theory, large cities and city-regions are magnets for people not only because they provide many work opportunities, but also because they are places that foster art, culture, creativity, social innovation and cosmopolitan lifestyles. In turn, an ever-increasing diversity of new people adds further to a city or region’s social and economic dynamism. While this may broadly be true for the towns and cities making up the Gauteng City-Region, it is also the case that the GCR remains deeply scarred by inequality, social divisions, felt exclusions and extreme-views, and is unforgiving of perceived weakness and social difference.
If the Gauteng City-Region is to function as a cosmopolitan, creative, socially appealing place, that attracts more and more innovators and entrepreneurs with its diversity and cultural appeal, quality of life for millions of its people must be dramatically improved. It is therefore not enough for government in the GCR to only (or largely only) concern itself with basic service delivery. Our society expects more from government than simply another RDP house or set of water connections (however important the task of addressing past backlogs remains). The social fabric is ‘tearing’ and government needs clear policy objectives and effective mechanisms to address this challenge.
Research in this area investigates both the dynamic changes occurring in the social fabric of the GCR and also measures that ought to be taken to address such concerns as inequality, racism, xenophobia, marginalisation and social exclusion.