Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

Township Economy: People, Spaces, and Practices

Andrew Charman, Leif Petersen, and Thireshen Govender
Township Economy: People, Spaces, and Practices
ISBN: 978-0-7969-2577-0
2020/330 pages
Distributed for HSRC Press
8 1/2" x 11" format
"Powerful and insightful ... a must-read for policy-makers, researchers and anyone else seeking to understand township economies in South Africa." —Ben Cousins, University of the Western Cape

"This book is an utterly compelling labyrinth of ideas, images and mappings that evokes the complexity and vitality of economic life in peripheralised urban spaces." —Suzanne Hall, London School of Economics and Political Science


Township Economy provides unique insight into the nature of informal businesses and entrepreneurship in the townships of postapartheid South Africa and Namibia. The authors draw on evidence collected across nearly a decade, beginning in 2010, to focus on microenterprises, the business strategies of township entrepreneurs, and the impact of autonomous informal economic activities on urban life. Notably, they examine the influence of power as a tool to dominate and control—and thus to constrain inclusive opportunities.


Andrew Charman and Leif Petersen are codirectors of the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation. Thireshen Govender is founder of Urban Works Architecture and Urbanism.


  • Introduction.
  • Researching Objects, Spaces, Persons, and Practices.
  • Entrepreneurs and Survivalists.
  • The Right to Use Land.
  • Spatial Ordering.
  • The High Street and Business Pioneers.
  • Transport: Efficient but Violent.
  • Winners and Losers in the Grocery Territorial Battle.
  • Drinking Venues and the Leisure Economy.
  • The Culture and Convenience of Foodservice.
  • Services as Social Infrastructure.
  • Sustaining Business and Coping with Risk.
  • Conclusions: Protect, Contain, and Disrupt.