Engineering Earth pp 1937-1955 | Cite as

Social Engineering: Creating and Now Undoing Apartheid’s Structures

  • Vernon A. Domingo


Perhaps no other country has experienced as much and as detailed socio-political engineering as apartheid South Africa. The apartheid project impacted people’s lives at every level, always with the goal of creating a set of parallel but grossly unequal spatial realities with almost no meaningful contacts between the population groups. This apartheid era legacy is one of enormous inequalities reflected in landscapes of separate, ethnically determined social worlds filled with despair for non-White South Africans. The bulldozing of two residential districts – South End in Port Elizabeth and Sophiatown in Johannesburg – are used as examples of government policies intent on breaking up mixed-race areas in order to create the “neat” residential areas that were such an integral part of apartheid planning. In the post-apartheid era, planners now have the task of undoing the many legacies created by the racially based system. Since 1994 there has been significant improvement in service delivery and in quality of life conditions for previously disenfranchised South Africans, but most of that change has taken place within already defined residential districts, so that many of the previously racially segregated residential districts remain as rigidly segregated today as they were during apartheid. The persistence of the pattern of racial segregation is seen as an outcome of municipal policies which focuses on service delivery in situ and rather than on the deliberate racial integration of residential areas. It is posited that not implementing policies of social integration could cause difficulties for future national cohesion and development.


Residential Segregation Racial Segregation Group Area Residential District Forced Removal 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyBridgewater State UniversityBridgewaterUSA

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