Urban Forum

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 319–342 | Cite as

Community Governance in Urban South Africa: Spaces of Political Contestation and Coalition

  • Obvious Katsaura


This paper deploys the concept of community governance in problematising the relationships between community-based organisations which generate participation in decision making at local or neighbourhood levels. I integrate Bourdieu’s “field theory” with the concept of “nodal governance”; conceptualising community governance as constituting a ‘field of local power politics’ in which community-based organisations enrol and contest each other. These organisations enrol and contest each other as they struggle for political legitimacy, control of knowledge and access to economic resources and power. It is against a backdrop characterised by the contestation–coalition oxymoron that I raise questions about the (anti-)democratic dynamics between and within participation-generating community-based organisations. This analysis is embedded in a case study of community politics in Yeoville, Johannesburg.


Community governance Participation Field theory Nodal governance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Architecture and PlanningUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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