|dc.description.abstract||In the past few years there has been a dramatic increase in research
dealing with the informal sector in South Africa. This research is
often motivated by academic curiosity as well as a growing concern
over poverty and unemployment among South Africa's blacks. It has
increasingly been suggested by academics, businessmen and government
officials that the informal sector be developed and encouraged in
appropriate directions in order to provide employment opportunities.
This thesis is a case study of a group of people who are officially
unemployed, and who work in the informal sector in order to survive.
The economic activity they are involved with, represents a subsector
of the informal sector namely, garbage picking.
The first question that is addressed in the study deals with the
problems inherent in the conceptualisation of the informal sector.
There are many interpretations of what comprises this sector,
depending in part on the stage of development that has been reached by
the local economy and on the theoretical perspective used in the
analysis. There are also many perspectives on whether the sector is
independent and autonomous and on the extent to which it is
intergrated into the economy of a country. Chapters 1 and 2 contain
critical examination of the literature dealing with these aspects. In chapter 3 the characteristics of the informal sector are studied.
Several case studies from different parts of the world are examined.
Chapter 4 examines the marginality concept in relation to the garbage
pickers with a view to determining the extent to which these people
are marginalised in society.
Attention is then directed towards the particular case study. The
characteristics of garbage picking and the people who do this work,
as well as the conditions under which they work, are examined in
chapters 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the thesis.
The results show that there is very little potential for the garbage
picker to improve his/her position within the informal sector. The
garbage pickers regard formal sector employment as their only way out
of their present position and, given present circumstances, it seems
that their view is correct.
However, since the likelihood of their finding formal wage employment
seems very limited, alternatives were examined and it seems that
within the garbage industry the potential does exist to create
formal sector jobs for the pickers. This potential can, however, only
be realised once the garbage industry recognises this and re-organise
itself to employ these people on a permanent basis.||en