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Super-Sizing Community Development Initiatives: The Case of Hillbrow's Faith Sector

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image of International Journal of Public Theology

Growing efforts by religious communities to pursue political goals have directed scholarly attention to their role as potential antipoverty and development agents in local settings. Yet agents are organized in a myriad of ways. Some forge alliances across traditional boundaries via 'bridging' mechanisms; others defend particularistic interests by adopting 'barrier' strategies. The former, however, is more likely to lead to the social transformation of poor neighbourhoods. Accordingly, in Johannesburg's most stressed inner-city neighbourhood, Hillbrow, sites of faith-based activities have become 'spaces of hope' for approximately seventy percent of its residents and at least eight faith-based organizations (FBOs) facilitate social and welfare programmes abandoned by the City Council. Here, despite the implementation of community development projects, poverty and hardship prevail. This article seeks to investigate reasons for developmental fragmentation by researching the institutional and political cultures of Hillbrow's FBOs and the City of Johannesburg.

Affiliations: 1: University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


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