During the third day of our fieldwork, we took a moment to reflect on our modes of operation thus far. Having spent the previous day walking and talking with residents to identify potential interviewees, we were ready to dive deeper into the personal narratives of those living in informal settlements and occupied buildings in Johannesburg. Our approach was multi-scalar, focusing on the micro, meso, and macro levels of the sites to understand shared systems, spaces, and narratives.
At the micro level, we worked to understand the personal stories of residents and how they navigate their living conditions. At the meso level, we mapped out clusters of overlapping networks and shared resources to understand how residents collectively deal with the lack of services and precarious living conditions. And at the macro level, we interviewed local organizations and actors who play a role in the upgrading of the settlements.
This day of data collection was crucial for establishing a rapport with residents and deepening our understanding of the sites. It was sandwiched between a day of exploration and identification and a day of filling in any gaps in our information or data. As we moved forward in our work, we continued to utilise, refine, and implement methodological tools that allowed us to approach the sites from multiple angles and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities and nuances of life in informal settlements and occupied buildings.