Circuits of Schooling and the Production of Space: the Household, Education, and Symbolic Struggles after Apartheid
by Mark Hunter
Every weekday morning, in every South African city, scores of taxis, buses, and cars move children, black and white, long distances to attend schools. A simple explanation for the phenomenal rise of out-of-area schooling in South Africa—one perhaps unmatched anywhere in the world—is the end of apartheid’s racially divided schooling system in the 1990s. But focused on south and central Durban, this paper traces the emergence of ten distinct pathways that children take through different schools, referred to as “circuits of schooling.” The social-geographical inequalities that underpin schoolchildren’s movement today, it argues, are rooted in racial segregation under apartheid, rising inequalities within segregated areas from the 1970s, and a decisive shift from race- to class-based inequalities after 1994. However, rather than seeing children’s mobility as unfolding mechanically from social structure, life histories of parents and interviews with schoolteachers demonstrate that it is a) emerging from important gendered socio-spatial transformations in families/households; b) tied up with the reworking of symbolic power, including through the contested status of English language and schoolboy sports like rugby; c) and produced by (and producing) new struggles over space. As such, the paper proposes that the concurrent deracialization of schools, workplaces, and residential areas is marked by a new urban politics in which the “right to the city” and education are deeply intertwined.
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