‘I Don’t Like My Children to Grow up in this Bad Area’: Parental Anxieties about Living in Informal Settlements


A growing body of research on informal settlements considers the experiences of children, but seldom outlines the daily parenting experiences of adult men and women. At the same time, policy on housing in South Africa points to the ways in which the ‘eradication’ of informal housing will help provide children with better futures. This article explores the social relation of parenting within an informal settlement in Durban, South Africa, bearing in mind the broader difficulties of parenting in poverty, and points to ways in which the material qualities of informal settlements contribute to feelings of anxiety in parents. It questions how these experiences might differ from or be similar to those of parents who live in generic contexts of poverty (but not necessarily informality). It concludes ultimately that living in an informal settlement does actually contribute to particular parental anxieties, but that there is no guarantee that informal housing eradication will remove these concerns.