The Role of Housing and the Neighborhood Environment on the Process of Social Exclusion/Inclusion: A Study with Reference to Sri Lankan Plantation Worker Community

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: 422
Oral Presentation
Dhammika CHANDRASEKARA , Architecture, University of Moratuwa, Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
When the British colonials started the tea and rubber plantations in Sri Lanka, the local peasantry did not show interest to work as wage laborers. This led to the forced migration of a large number of South Indians to the plantations.

During the last 150 years, the economic, social and political context in plantations has changed drastically. The management of   estates have changed hands from British companies to Sri Lankan government and then to local private companies. From the original position of stateless migrant laborers, the worker community has now achieved the citizenship of Sri Lanka.

However, the estate community remains alienated from the mainstream social, political, and economic life. The available quantitative data and the qualitative studies point out the strong socially excluded nature of the plantation community. Their production system, consumption patterns, educational attainments and other social development indicators confirm this status.

The community was originally provided with estate owned barrack type shelter called line rooms. Majority of the plantation workers still live in these compact and dilapidated housing units. The self help detached housing   project implemented during the 1998-2004 period improved the living environment of around 14% families.

This empirical qualitative study carried out in a rubber estate located 40 km. to the south east of Colombo, investigates the role of housing condition on the social exclusion/ inclusion process of the community. It explains that the social stigma associated with line room environments strongly contribute to the socially excluded nature. The new detached shelters positively contribute to the social inclusion.

The study points out that the social capital of the community has a crucial link with the housing conditions. The families with strong bridging social capital have entered into the detached housing construction programme. It also shows that line rooms develop bonding capital and encourage social detachment.