Year: 2015
Working paper number: 356
Author: Seekings, Jeremy
Unit: SSU
This chapter examines changing social attitudes in post-apartheid South Africa, asking whether the African middle classes have distinctive social attitudes, relative to poorer or lower class African people, whether this has changed over the 2000s, and thus how the rapid growth of the African middle classes is affecting social and political life. 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 may 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 affirmative action more strongly, 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. Simple multivariate models indicate uneven class and race effects on selected social attitudes. Overall, the growth of the African middle classes seems to be good for race relations but may reduce the likelihood of pro-poor policies to challenge inequalities of class.
Publication file: WP 356.pdf