CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

The Effects of Private Walls on Relationships Across Class and Race in the New South Africa

Daniel Torrington, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Anne Norton

Date of this Version: 14 May 2013



This thesis seeks to understand the intended and unintended effects of the proliferation of private walls around homes in South Africa, specifically in the context of apartheid and post-apartheid history. I argue that walls around private homes produce a variety of effects. Firstly, they visually, physically, and mentally separate individuals, resulting in decreased interactions between residents and passersby as well as between neighbors and greater ignorance between these groups. Secondly, walls preclude the formation of positive relationships between strangers of different classes and races, and they catalyze the formation of unequal relationships of power. This imbalance is compounded by existing economic and social inequality in contemporary South Africa. Thirdly, walls encourage the adoption of inherently oppositional identities based around status and security, resulting in the creation of Us/Them divisions between those on the inside and those on the outside.


Other Political Science

Suggested Citation

Torrington, Daniel, "The Effects of Private Walls on Relationships Across Class and Race in the New South Africa" 14 May 2013. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 14 May 2013




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