The Social Consequences of Class Formation among Black South Africans in the 2000s: Evidence from the South African Reconciliation Barometer

Event type: 
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 24 February, 2015 -
12:45 to 14:00
Jeremy Seekings
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

I examine whether the African elite and middle classes have distinctive social attitudes, relative to poorer or lower class African people, and whether this has changed over the 2000s, in order to understand better how the rapid growth of the African middle classes affects social and political life in post-apartheid South Africa. The chapter uses survey data (from the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation’s South African Reconciliation Barometer) to show that the African middle classes assess much more positively than the poor the economic changes that have taken place in post-apartheid South Africa, and that this differential has grown over time. The middle classes are aware of their privilege, but seem to underestimate the challenges facing the poor. They are also more positive about improved inter-racial relations since 1994, perhaps because they enjoy very much more inter-racial interaction than do the poor. In terms of public policy, the middle classes support more strongly affirmative action, but are also more likely to say that the government does too much for people and probably see less need for active policies around employment creation. Overall, the growth of the African middle classes seems to be good for race relations but reduces the likelihood of pro-poor policies to challenge inequalities of class.