Car guarding has emerged as one of the informal economic activities that form an integral part of the South African urban landscape. This activity serves as a source of livelihood for many individuals who face limited job opportunities and numerous barriers to entry into the formal economy. Drawing on conceptualisations of space, flexible accumulation and sustainable livelihoods, this research explored the work-life experiences and challenges that Pretoria car guards face in negotiating their working spaces. The generation of livelihoods in relation to the utilisation of public space by car guards was explored. The study outlines the significance of access to public space in the generation of livelihoods for car guards as well as their reasons for doing this type of work. Findings indicate that the primary reason for engaging in car guarding is to earn an income and survive in the midst of unemployment, limited job opportunities and poverty, given the low level of education and skills participants have. The study further revealed that urban public space is a pivotal physical asset through which car guards secure their livelihoods. Nonetheless, the utilisation of urban public space is highly contested and negotiated with an array of different actors such as: those in positions of authority1, the general public and fellow car guards. In negotiating their working spaces, car guards face competition and conflict as major challenges. Social skills and interpersonal relations play a pivotal role when it comes to accessing and entering car guarding. In their work they face an array of challenges ranging from exposure to fluctuating weather conditions, lack of a secure environment to harassment by those in positions of authority. Given their income insecurity, car guards are forced to work long hours and they employ different strategies to negotiate their working space in urban public places. These include aggressively defending their turf against other fellow car guards as well as paying certain amounts through both informal and formal arrangements to those in positions of authority to secure their working space. This as a result renders the urban public space as a commodity with territorial meanings and ownership attached to it.
Mini Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2017.