1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development (2000 - 2009)

Policy, Politics and Poverty in South Africa

Policy, Politics and Poverty in South Africa
When South Africa finally held its first democratic elections in 1994, the country had a much higher poverty rate than in other countries at a similar level of development. This was the legacy of apartheid. Twenty years later, poverty was still widespread. Seekings and Nattrass explain why poverty has persisted in South Africa since 1994. They demonstrate who has and who has not remained poor, how public policies both mitigated and reproduced poverty, and how and why these policies were adopted. Their analysis of the South African welfare state, labour market policies and the growth path of the South African economy challenge conventional accounts that focus only on 'neoliberalism'. They argue, instead, that policies were, in important respects, social democratic. They show how social democratic policies both mitigate and reproduce poverty in contexts such as South Africa, reflecting the contradictory nature of social democracy in the global South.

Jeremy Seekings is Professor of Political Science and Sociology, and Nicoli Nattrass is Professor of Economics, at the universities of Cape Town, South Africa, and Yale, United States. They have written widely on South African politics, economics, society and history, on AIDS, and the comparative history of the welfare state.

This book is available as hardback or as an Ebook (EPUB and PDF).


1. Introduction: Neoliberalism, Social Democracy and Poverty
2. Poverty among Affluence
3. Workers, the State and Wages
4. The Economic Growth Path
5. Class and Status
6. Income Support through the Welfare State
7. The Welfare State, Public Services and the "Social Wage"
8.The Capacity and Accountability of the Democratic State
9. The Power of Business and Labour
10. The "Rebellion of the Poor", Social Movements and the Limits of Insurgent Citizenship
11. Conclusion
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 30 Jul 2015
    Pub. Place: Basingstoke
    ISBN: 978-1-137-45268-9
    Type: Hardback / Ebook (EPUB) / Ebook (PDF)
    From: Palgrave