Die politiek van transformasie : ’n analise van ekonomiese verandering in Suid-Afrika
Bosman, Frouwien Reina
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For the sake of continued social stability in South Africa it is imperative that the country’s so-called “partial transition” is completed through a process of meaningful socio-economic transformation that addresses the consequences of its history of unequal development. Transformation can thus be viewed as one of the primary challenges in the economic and socio-political landscape in South Africa. It is the task of social sciences to contribute to the general understanding of our social reality through systematic analysis and thereby promoting effective responses to social challenges. Current literature on the transformation process in South Africa focuses almost exclusively on the country’s political transition (as a change in power relationships) and analyses of socioeconomic inequality and descriptions of the successes and failures of policy measures that have been adopted since 1994 to promote the redistribution of economic resources. Three shortcomings in current literature on and the theoretical analysis of transformation were identified, namely: (i) the apparent disregard of the status implications of the redistribution of political and economic resources, (ii) the absence of analyses that problematise the transformation process as such (and specifically the sector and industry specific initiatives initiated to promote Black Economic Empowerment), and (iii) the lack of prescriptive guidelines for the management of transformation processes. It is the primary goal of this study to develop a theoretical framework in terms of which socioeconomic transformation can be analysed. Socio-economic transformation is described as a potentially contentious process and it is shown that the institutionalised and negotiated nature of transformation in the South African context allows us to interpret it in terms of theories of social conflict. Theory from the field of conflict studies, and specifically Social Identity Theory, is used to analyse the impact of the redistribution of power and material resources on the status of social groups and the concurrent implications for inter-group relationships. The theoretical model is also used to identify specific circumstances under which the stability of social relationships can be maintained amidst the redistribution of power and resources – i.e.: circumstances in which parity of esteem is maintained through mutual acceptance of the principles that underlie the distribution of resources, power and other sources of social status. A prescriptive model for the management of conflict that satisfies these requirements is developed from the theory of conflict transformation and is presented as a model for the management of transformation. This model suggests the achievement of social justice as the desired outcome of conflict management. In the absence of a satisfactory definition of social justice in the existing theory, John Rawls’s conceptualisation of justice is suggested as an analytical elaboration of the theory. A case study, namely the negotations on the Wine Industry Charter and the transformation of a key institution in the South African wine industry, is used to illustrate how the chosen theoretical model (and specifically the theoretical assumptions regarding the need for positive self-esteem) can by used by analysts to interpret information processes. The case study is also used to illustrate how the elements of the chosen prescriptive model for the management of transformation has been utilised. The study confirms the fact that the chosen theoretical model for the management of transformation was utilised in the formal transformation process in the wine industry (and specifically in the successful development of the Wine Industry Charter and the negotiations regarding the structure and nature of the South African Wine Council).