Photography by:
  • Amanda van der Walt & Lesedi Mogale

Peripheries and rural / urban transitions (2017)

  • Complete

The GCRO and the National Research Foundation South African Research Chairs Initiative in Spatial Analysis and City Planning (SARChI SA&CP) have partnered to undertake a research project exploring peripheral areas and rural/urban transitions in the GCR.

The project examined development trajectories as well as demographic and socio-spatial change in peripheral areas, towns and centres of Gauteng. The project has two themes.

  • Using data from GCRO Quality of Life Surveys and Census 2011, the GCRO has examined the socio-economic and demographic dimensions of change in peripheral areas of the GCRO. Before this was possible it developed a methodology to identify peripheral and core areas in the GCR. Doing this enabled examination of the ways that peripherality can be multiple, flexible and expressed in different ways, places and times across space.
  • The SARChI SA&CP team has focused on the place-economies of peripheral areas of the GCR. These investigations have been place specific and centred on de-industrialising and mining spaces in the GCR.


The two themes have been compiled together with an introduction as a research report. The impetus for the report comes from a clear recognition that despite the comparative wealth of Gauteng and its role in driving the national economy, there are places of relative peripherality in the GCR which require attention. This report is also part of a wider exercise towards understanding dynamics in areas of Gauteng that can be defined as either core or periphery and the sometimes indeterminate and contradictory nature of such distinctions. The report demonstrates that notions of the periphery are relational, and need to be understood in terms of scale.

The research is presented in two parts, entitled ‘Uneven development – core and periphery in Gauteng’ and ‘Gauteng – on the edge’. Both parts, albeit through different modes, consider transitions in the social economies of outlying places. The report brings data into focus to help sharpen the debate around where development and economic investment might be focused. It highlights the importance of history and timing, and it asks us to consider how urban development could be used to help drive economic development and vice versa.


GCRO Reports

Peberdy, S., Harrison, P. and Dinath, Y. (2017) Uneven spaces: core and periphery in the Gauteng city-region, Johannesburg: Gauteng City-Region Observatory.


Peberdy, S. (2015). ‘Conceptualising the edge’, ‘Faces of the City: Gauteng on the Edge’ presented at a workshop co-hosted by the GCRO, the NRF-SARChI team and CUBES at the University of the Witwatersrand, May 2015.

Peberdy, S. (2015). ‘Demographic and socio-economic dynamics in the core and periphery of Gauteng’ presented at a workshop co-hosted by the GCRO, the NRF-SARChI team and CUBES at the University of the Witwatersrand, May 2015.

Wray, C., Peberdy, S., and Damon, K. (2014). ‘Visualising core and peripheral areas in the Gauteng City-Region, South Africa,’ a poster presented at the RGS/IBG Conference, London, August 2014.

Last updated 20 October 2017.


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