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Department of Spatial Planning

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New article by Raffael Beier

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Several small huts in the area of Khayelitsha in Cape Town © Raffael Beier
Backyard dwellings in Khayelitsha, Cape Town (2017)


"Housing Pathways of the “Missing People” of Public Housing and Resettlement Programs: Methodological Reflections"

The article, published in the journal Urban Planning, deals with the methodological challenges and solutions for the study of people who depart from state-subsidized housing in Ethiopia, Morocco and South Africa.


affordable housing/ comparative research/ displacement/ housing pathway/ housing programs/ informality/ resettlement/ residential trajectories/ slum upgrading/snowball sampling



This article deals with methodological challenges and presents solutions for the study of people who depart from state-subsidized housing in Ethiopia, Morocco, and South Africa. Having sold or rented out their units, these people have left and now live at dispersed locations. Assuming that many “missing people” leave state housing because of project-related shortcomings, studying the reasons for their departure is crucial to understanding standardized housing programs. “Missing people” urge scholars to emphasize the afterlives of housing policy interventions as a necessary analytical dimension. However, such research is confronted with three major methodological challenges: How is it possible to approach and study people who have disappeared from the area of a housing intervention? How can one link exploratory, in-depth qualitative accounts, rooted in subjective perceptions of the everyday, to potential structural deficiencies of standardized housing interventions? What kind of methodologies may help take into account the temporalities of displacement and resettlement? In order to overcome these challenges, the article presents innovative forms of purposive sampling and discusses analytical strategies, which—based on Clapham’s framework of “housing pathways”—bridge relational and structural perspectives to housing programs.

Here you may find the full article in the journal Urban Planning.