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The Relocation of Villagers into Public Housing: Some Suggestive Findings from a Singaporean Stud*1

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The relocation of villagers into modern high-rise housing estates is, in most countries, the exception rather than the rule. The urbanization of rural populations is, more typically, a gradual process. Rural migrants first settle in inner-city slums and squatter areas of the urban fringe, where they are often able to maintain some of the living arrangements and patterns of social organization which are characteristically rural Only after additional movements within these areas of first settlement, and after sufficient time had elapsed to allow for some assimilation into urban life, will some of the migrants, or their descendants, move into high rise public housing estates. This form of housing is, in many respects, the ultimate in urban living. It is characterized by nuclear families, occupying rigidly defined space, living among strangers, and subject to bureaucratic rules and controls. However, the fact that families typically move to housing estates after having experienced some form of urban living may ease the transition. Also, the fact that slum dwellings are often of physically inferior quality compared to estate housing3 may increase the willingness of new residents to accept some of the constraints of estate living.

Affiliations: 1: School of Social Work, Tel-Aviv University


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