Some interesting articles and documents which we have either written or collected and which you may freely view or download

INSITE Comment on draft Human Settlements White Paper

Author:   Dr Paul Hendler, 2024
Publisher:   INSITE Settlements Network

This paper is a critical assessment of the government’s draft human settlements White Paper. It approaches it as an ideological document through which the state interpellates a hegemonic social identity, that of the ‘entrepreneur’. It examines the extent to which government has achieved its objective of enabling asset wealth creation and spatial and social integration through its human settlements policy. This is the context within which it assesses the relevance of the draft White Paper to overcoming the challenges it identifies.

PDF – 1.9mb

Theoretical and Empirical Reflections on South African Post-Apartheid Urban and Housing Strategies – Part-1

Author:   Dr Paul Hendler, 2019
Publisher:   INSITE Settlements Network

This paper is an exposition of the deeper content of one of four videos. These videos covered a discussion on neo-liberalism and its manifestations through South Africa’s post-apartheid urban and housing strategies. Running parallel to the videoed discussion was the writing of an analytical paper. This paper has sought rigorously to criticise the ideology of neo-liberalism. It has attempted top do this through the lense of gazing at South Africa’s post-apartheid urban and housing strategies. The Introduction segment of the paper, i.e. this document, sets the scene for this exercise. It relates the author’s personal background in relation to the influences of classical economic and neo-Marxist theories. The Introduction segment to the paper explains the core concepts used to critically analyse neo-liberalism. It also clarifies a positive inspiration for a different world, the possibilities for which should be worked for through progressive political practices. Including theoretical practices, i.e. the critique of dominant and hegemonic theories, in the interests of human emancipation.

PDF – 1.18mb

The Urban Network Strategy – The Panacea for Urban and Developmental Ills?

Author:   Dr Paul Hendler and Dr Arumugam Pillay, 2015
Publisher:   INSITE Settlements Network

The government through the National Treasury is implementing a Cities Support Programme (CSP). Spatial targeting is the broad strategy of the CSP. The main strategic instrument is the Urban Network Strategy (UNS), to address the following challenges facing metropolitan municipalities: poor governance and financial accountability, poverty, unemployment and social marginalisation, and the undermining of both financial and ecological sustainability of city environments and services.

The purpose of this paper is to develop an argument that spatial targeting is insufficient to address the challenges of unemployment and poverty, which lie at the root of social marginalisation, as well as the argument that cities have insufficient revenue base to cope with the growing mass of people migrating from the rural areas. If other, historical spatial targeting instruments (e.g. the Regional Industrial Development Programme and the Strategic Development Initiatives) failed to create sustainable employment what makes the CSP different?

Is spatial targeting likely to deliver green economic growth and jobs and integrate our cities? Can we rely mainly or entirely on the cities for the provision of work, housing and services for the urbanising population or do we need to have a concerted rural development strategy? What do we do for people living on the fringes now?

PDF – 1.0mb

The History of Spatial Planning and Land Use in South Africa

Author:   Dr Paul Hendler, 2015
Publisher:   INSITE Settlements Network

Developed from a historical analysis of urban land use, based on a periodisation of state policies and capital accumulation in housing, this paper explores the history of urban land in South Africa, seeking to understand the current limitations and to conceptualise strategic ideas for transforming urban land usage.

After discussing land rights, land ownership and development, and environmental impact in urban areas over five periods (pre-1913 to the present day), the limits and possibilities for municipal interventions are examined, and the key issues and areas for municipal interventions are proposed.

  This publication is unfortunately no longer available online.

The Planning and Unplanning of Urban Space since 1913

Author:   Dr Paul Hendler, 2015
Publisher:   In Cousins, B and Walker, C (eds) Land Divided, Land Restored: Land Reform in South Africa for the 21st Century, Jacana, 2015, 85-103

The Chapter contributed to a book reviewing the contemporary significance of land as a social, economic and natural resource in South Africa – to pose new questions and search for new answers.

The chapter explores the urban dimensions of spatial segregation and the challenges arising from decades of state-led marginalisation of black urban development.

The importance of looking at land reform holistically, as not only a rural but also an urban imperative, cannot be overstated. An underlying question is what the optimal relationship should be between urban and rural development in national policy.

The position adopted in this chapter is that urban centres are the drivers of economic activity in contemporary South Africa overall, but that this does not mean that rural development and agrarian reform are unimportant. Furthermore, small towns and rural villages have untapped potential as economic nodes within regional development strategies.

  This publication is unfortunately no longer available online.

Capital accumulation, social reproduction and social struggle: rethinking the function of spatial planning and land use

Author:   Dr Paul Hendler, 2015
Publisher:   African Sociological Review Vol. 19, 2

The purpose of this paper is to understand the historical impact on urban land usage of ecological, economic and political factors in order to conceptualise strategic ideas for transforming urban land usage currently and in the future to enable social equity, promote the efficient use of resources and sustain the ecologies within which cities and towns are embedded.

The paper analyses the historical data through a triangular matrix of capital accumulation, state reproduction and planning strategies and popular movements pressurizing to benefit from demanded land usages. Capital accumulation is viewed as a process through which wealth produced by labour accrues both to owners of capital and managers in the form of unearned value.

This insight is particularly important in the current phase of global capitalism, in which financialisation is a dominant form of economic activity and impacts also on the way spaces are planned and used in urban areas for economic gain. Given the contradiction between an exponentially growing economy and finite resources, I take into account limits to growth and incorporate ecological economics’ insights into classical political economy analyses.


Authors:   Dr Paul Hendler and Dr Arumugam Pillay, 2015

The South African National Treasury, through its Cities Support Programme (CSP), is taking the initiative to support eight metropolitan municipalities to transform the way they govern and manage their cities.

The intention is to get the cities to run more efficiently, with respect to the delivery of services, attract investment, grow their economies, etc. Read more in the PDF

PDF – 461 kb

Grassroots Service Solutions – Using Hindsight to Organise Better

Author:   Dr Paul Hendler, 2014
Publisher:   Cape Times newspaper

A quarter of our population live in dispersed informal settlements which are disconnected from urban social services and amenities, have lower service levels than formal townships, are poorly maintained and have a high fire and flood risk.

This article By Dr Paul Hendler, which was published in Cape Town’s Cape Times newspaper on January 14, 2014, looks at grassroots solutions aimed at better organisation.

PDF – 457 kb

Tackling the Challenge of Building Capacity in the Public Sector

Authors:   Dr Paul Hendler, Ms Karen Miedzinski and Mr Tony Wolfson, 2012
Publisher:   Transformer, a journal for Development and Governance issues.

Our Government needs to be developmental. However in itself it does not always have the capacity to develop . Home ownership, access to which is severely limited to a small minority in South Africa, has played a significant triggering and multiplication function for socio-economic development in many countries including South Africa.

PDF –651 kb

A Critique of South African Housing Policy

Author:   Dr Paul Hendler, 2010
Publisher:   Cape Times newspaper

Government’s stated intention is to create sustainable human settlements for all. In reality most South Africans live in remote informal settlements and what are still largely under-serviced urban dormitories. Why have long-standing apartheid spatial patterns persisted, 16 years after the advent of democracy? What could prompt real change towards the development of sustainable settlements?

PDF –1.3 mb

Housing Finance Trends

Authors:   Dr Paul Hendler and Mr Morgan Pillay, 2004
Publisher:   INSITE Settlements Network

A review of housing finance trends in the USA, India, Europe, Thailand and South Africa.

Housing Finance Systems in Five Countries – (PDF –144 kb)

Housing Finance Systems in Five Countries – (PowerPoint Slide Show – 487 kb)

Governance, Housing and Sustainable Neighbourhoods

Authors:   Dr Paul Hendler, 2010
Publisher:   Chapter in Swilling, M (ed) Sustaining Cape Town – Imagining a Liveable City, Sustainability Institute/SUN Press, Stellenbosch

This book introduces the theoretical perspectives which underpin the required transition to sustainable cities in general and Cape Town in particular. The fourteen chapters tackle more specific areas of intervention on the basis of the status quo and the key constraints towards realisation of related transition interventions in the City of Cape Town.

The Chapter explores sustainable housing in Cape Town through the lense of the political economy of housing delivery, because this is where the major obstacles exist to broadening access to decent, affordable and sustainable residential accommodation. Through identifying political and economic obstacles to the delivery of affordable and sustainable housing, the chapter intends to contribute to a debate about the political and economic practices that would arguably begin to address and overcome these obstacles.

  This book is unfortunately no longer available online

Sustainable Human Settlement Indicators

Authors:   Dr Paul Hendler and Ms Lisa Thompson-Smeddle, 2009
Publisher:   INSITE Settlements Network

If life on earth is to be sustained, the challenge is for people to live radically different life styles with regard to natural resource use and the financial, biosphere and climatic limitations referred to above. In recognition of this fact there are increasing calls internationally and locally for the development of sustainable human settlements, which will take into account the challenges referred to above.

Sustainable Human Settlement Indicators – SA performance (PDF – 165 kb)

Sustainable Human Settlement indicators (KPAs) — (Table in a PDF – 763 kb)

Are NGOs Relevant to the Delivery of Social Housing on Scale

Authors:   Dr Paul Hendler, 2006
Publisher:   Bagale Strategic Consulting Services (Pty) Ltd

As we enter the second decade of a post-apartheid democracy, the majority of our people are still plagued by housing problems. Government has recognized the need to revisit its housing strategy, and has responded to the challenges in the sector through a comprehensive plan.

Read more in this article by Dr Paul Hendler with Bagali Strategic Consulting Services (Pty) Ltd which was presented in a paper to the 20th Anniversary conference of the NGO, Planact in 2006 and which still has relevance today.

PDF – 763 kb

Energy Scenarios for 2019

Authors:   Paul Hendler Phd, Jack Holliday BSc (Eng), Simon Ratcliffe MSc, MBA, Jeremy Wakeford, MPhil with special thanks to Michael de Wit and Tim Hutton
Publisher:   The Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO)

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) was established in 2001 by Colin Campbell, an oil geologist with forty years experience in the oil industry both as a geologist and as an executive. Today it is the foremost network of experts studying all aspects of oil depletion in 26 countries around the world.

This is a presentation is a research study by Paul Hendler Phd, Jack Holliday BSc (Eng), Simon Ratcliffe MSc, MBA, Jeremy Wakeford, MPhil with special thanks to Michael de Wit and Tim Hutton. It was submitted to the Presidency of the South African Government in May 2007.

PDF – 2 mb

Research Notes and Commentary: Understanding the Formation of the Built Environment – Methodology, Theory and the Interweaving of Capital Accumulation and Social Reproduction – Response to McCarthy

Authors:   Dr Paul Hendler, 1988
Publisher:   South African Geographical Journal, Vol 71, no 1, 56-59

This piece is a rejoinder to Jeff McCarthy’s brief reply to Hendler’s Rethinking of the Social Geography of the African townships.

It is aimed at clarifying several methodological and theoretical issues, of importance to the development of urban studies in South Africa. The rejoinder also aims to defend Hendler’s argument for a conceptual break with what was a dominant structuralist theoretical trend in radical South African urban studies.

Research Notes and Commentary: Paul Hendler’s Rethinking of the Social Geography of Black Townships: A Brief Reply

Authors:   Dr Paul Hendler, 1987
Publisher:   South African Geographical Journal, Vol 69, No 1

This piece is a reply to a longer article by Paul Hendler, in the same edition of the SA Geographical Journal.

In that article Hendler argues for making a conceptual break with the Reproduction of Space urban analysts, amongst whom McCarthy was a prominent figure. McCarthy’s piece is a refutation of Hendler’s argument, claiming that the differences between Hendler’s and the Reproduction of Space theorists whom he is criticising is more apparent than real, i.e. that he has set up a straw man.

Capital Accumulation and Conurbation: Rethinking the Social Geography of the ‘Black’ Townships

Authors:   Dr Paul Hendler, 1987
Publisher:   South African Geographical Journal, Vol 69, No 1, 60-85

During the 1980s the heightening of social struggles in the townships classified as Black, became a marked feature of South African politics.

Burgeoning social conflict in these largely working class residential areas was also reflected in the appearance of intellectual commentary on housing, transport and other issues. Several academic studies and political tracts attempted to explain the increasing undersupply and rising cost of accommodation and amenities in the townships.

This paper explores the assumptions underlying a set of radical contributions on the housing and other urban questions in the ‘Black’ townships. The latter are predicated on the assumption that class struggles — mediated through conflict over the distribution of the costs of reproducing labour power — are the major determinants of urban policy and conflict.

The present study approached the housing and related urban questions with a perspective which differed from the existing radical analyses — namely, that the capital accumulating activities of private companies also contributed to shaping urban policies and functions of the state.

The inquiry demonstrated that this was the case on the Witwatersrand during the early-1980s, thereby vindicating the need to make a conceptual break with the paradigms of existing urban studies.