In this valuable book, The State of the People, the authors ask a pertinent question - did the transition to democracy improve the state of the South African people? It is the sheer scale of the transition in South Africa that provides a unique opportunity to investigate processes of transition and it was decided that a longitudinal and multi-disciplinary study be launched to register the changes in political opinion, attitude and behaviour of South Africans during the period 1994 to 2000.
The research brought together the collective efforts and skills of the experienced - a knowledgeable research team from the Universities of the Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch, Natal, Western Cape and the Free University, Amsterdam, and the HSRC - and more than 50 South African and Dutch students, who all gained new insights and valuable experience in the course thereof.
Beginning with an overview of historical developments in 1994 to 2000, The State of the People then examines the distribution of wealth. During, and prior to, the apartheid era, wealth was distributed on the basis of race and Chapter 2 explores whether six years of the 'new' South Africa made a difference in this regard. Chapter 3 on grievances and relative deprivation describes how, in the course of time, people assessed their personal situation and that of the group they felt closest to, while Chapter 4 explores the formation of collective identity in the 'new' South Africa. Questions such as whether people developed an overarching national identity in a country that had been so deeply divided and whether race has lost its overpowering impact on people's collective identity are explored.
The book goes on to discuss citizen participation in civil society organisations (Chapter 5) and investigates how South Africans evaluate their government (Chapter 6), including to what extent South Africans approve of and trust national, provincial and local government. Chapter 7 offers a discussion of the extent to which South Africans are interested in politics and whether they participated in electoral and protest politics - interestingly, the authors also explore whether interest in politics and political participation has declined since the change in power in 1994.
Finally, The State of the People summarises South Africans' evaluation of their state, both in terms of their personal situation and that of the people they identify with and the new political arrangements of their country.
List of Tables
List of Figures
Preface and Acknowledgements
About the Authors
About this Book
1. South African politics and collective action, 1994-2000 by Tom Lodge
2. The distribution of wealth
3. Grievances and relative deprivation
4. The formation of collective identity
5. Involvement in civil society
6. The evaluation of government with Hennie Kotze
7. Political participation
8. The state of the people
Appendix - Methods