Year: 2002
Working paper number: 024
Author: Seekings, Jeremy
Unit: SSU

The study of attitudes toward distributive justice remains poorly developed in South Africa. We know little about the ways in which old and new social cleavages are actually seen, and hence how they might be transformed into political cleavages. Some preliminary, essentially qualitative data has suggested that there are a number of issues on which the employed and the unemployed hold contrasting attitudes, and that there is a growing perception on the part of the unemployed that they have distinct interests to the employed. The 1993 PSLSD survey suggests that attitudes are influenced by the labour market status of other household members as well as the respondent's own status. Evidence from the 2000 survey of Khayelitsha and Mitchell's Plain (Cape Town) reveals a picture of concern over inequality, massive support for government spending to counter poverty and inequality, but reduced support when respondents are faced with the prospect of increased taxes. We also found evidence of scepticism around unions and strike action, together with a confusing mix of pro- and anti-business sentiments. But we did not find any clear evidence that labour market status – or the labour market status of other household members – influenced attitudes in a significant way. Our data does not suggest that, in this particular area, there is much likelihood of unemployment becoming the basis of a major political cleavage.

Publication file: wp24.pdf