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  • GCRO

Everyday economy of mega-projects

The project revisits 2016 fieldwork that formed part of the Scale, Belonging and Exclusion project. In this research, published as Ballard, Jones and Ngwenya (2021), a research team interviewed construction workers living in Diepsloot who were working on neighbouring mega-projects. Although developers claimed that their investments would benefit the nearby settlement of Diepsloot because it created work opportunities, the research showed that workers were being paid low incomes from which they could only meet some of their basic needs.

The Everyday economy of mega projects study is a new study that was initiated in 2019 by Dr Nihan Akyelken at the department of Continuing Education, Oxford University. Dr Akyelken, as principal investigator, successfully applied for funding from the John Fell Fund at Oxford in order to run a pilot study. The purpose of the pilot study is to test financial diaries methodologies with workers on megaprojects in Turkey and South Africa. In 2020, the researchers developed the instruments and GCRO signed an agreement with the University of Oxford in order to allow for the transfer of research costs. They also employed Matome Sekwatla to be the researcher in Johannesburg.

Given the pandemic, the team opted to experiment with a telephonic approach. Matome Sekwatla recruited eight residents of Diepsloot who are construction workers on nearby projects. He conducted initial interviews with each of them and for three months following the initial interview, he conducted a weekly financial diary discussion with each participant in order to build up a detailed picture of each participants’ finances. The principal investigator is applying for further grants in order to scale up this approach from a pilot study into a more extensive study.

Last updated: 10 December 2021.

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