The making of 'the poor' in post-apartheid South Africa : a case study of the city of Johannesburg and Orange Farm.
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This thesis offers an overview of the functions served by various mobilisations of "poverty‟ and "the poor‟ across the histories of capitalism. It shows how "poverty‟ and "the poor‟ come to be shaped as governmental categories in the interests first of encouraging the acceptance of wage labour in industrial society, and then in encouraging the acceptance of a logic of individual responsibility and entrepreneurship as wage labour declines in post-industrial society. It also examines the deployment of discourses of poverty within social movements, showing the close relationship between the elaboration of governmental discourses and resistance in the contested process of the "making‟ of "the poor‟. In particular, it explores the increased mobilisation of discourses of poverty in post-apartheid South Africa, where, it is shown, "poverty‟ and "the poor‟ are shaped as governmental categories that aim to fashion particular forms of life for that population group identified and targeted as the poor, and become ways for poor people to make demands of the state in the context of the adoption of neoliberal policies, such as cost recovery, privatisation, and the flexibilisation of labour. Through a close exploration of state policy formulation and community struggles in the sphere of the delivery of basic services, this thesis presents the contested field of signification and production that emerges around the meeting of the basic needs of the poor in the City of Johannesburg and Orange Farm (a particularly disadvantaged part of the city) as a case through which to think through contemporary mobilisations of "poverty‟ and "the poor‟ in relation to processes of subjectivation and the possibilities for the production of subjectivities antagonistic to the logic of capital. Focusing on the City's most recent return to indigent management as a strategy to contain and address the needs of the poor, in the context of organised resistance on the part of poor communities, this thesis offers an experience of a process of neoliberalisation as a contested process, in which attempts to shape and deploy "the poor‟ and "poverty‟ as governmental categories come up against mobilisations of "the poor‟ in challenge of the dominant logic of commodification, the market, and "individual responsibility‟.
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