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  • The Social Question in South Africa: From Settler Colonialism to Neoliberal-Era Democracy

    Ben Scully

    Chapter from the book: Breman, J et al. 2019. The Social Question in the Twenty-First Century: A Global View.


    The chapter presents a history of the "social question" in South Africa, from the late-19th century to the present. In the colonial and Apartheid eras, the state defined the social question in racialized terms as the “poor white” problem. The primary form of protection offered to white South Africans was systematic advantage in the labor market, while social policy was used as a residual safety net. In the post-Apartheid era, racial discrimination in the labor market was made illegal, but the increasing precarity of the labor market meant that it could not provide security to the majority. Instead, social policy became increasingly important, but its effectiveness was limited by its historical roots in the residual system of social protection established for white workers in the Apartheid era.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Scully, B. 2019. The Social Question in South Africa: From Settler Colonialism to Neoliberal-Era Democracy. In: Breman, J et al (eds.), The Social Question in the Twenty-First Century. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.74.k

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    Published on July 30, 2019