The relationship between social capital and income generation amongst Indians in South Africa : an exploratory and comparative study in post-Apartheid South Africa

Schulein, Stefanie (2005-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Despite the abolition of Apartheid in 1994, the entrenched effects of discriminatory policies remain prevalent in terms of socio-economic inequalities between racial groups in South Africa. Nevertheless, throughout the Apartheid era the Indian population of South Africa seems to have maintained a distinct economic advantage when compared to Africans and Coloureds. This dynamic is indeed puzzling as these three racial groups were all subject to discriminatory Apartheid legislation. In an attempt to find an appropriate explanatory variable for this trend, I tum to the notion of social capital (social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them). Arriving in South Africa in 1860 as indentured labourers on Natal's sugar plantations, the Indian community in South Africa indeed continues to display distinct dynamics with regards to social organization in the post- Apartheid era. In light of these dynamics, this study aims to assess the relationship between levels of social capital and income generation amongst the African, Coloured and Indian communities in South Africa. It is hypothesized that a distinct set of associational networks within the Indian community, shaped by a specific historical trajectory, are directly related to the heightened income generation capacity of this racial group. The vanous dimensions of social capital assessed in this study include: membership of voluntary organizations, informal social ties, participation in religious organizations and trust. Findings indicate that it is particularly within the realm of informal social ties that Indians derive a distinct economic advantage. The effect remains once the impact of education is taken into consideration. This exploratory study therefore makes a valuable contribution towards the analysis of social capital within South Africa's different race groups, allowing for more valid indicators to be developed in the future. Future studies will need to identify the seeds which need to be planted if social capital is to grow organically, not only within, but more importantly between race groups. This will no doubt make a lasting contribution towards addressing the widespread socio-economic challenges currently faced by South Africa's emerging democracy.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ten spyte van die afskaffing van Apartheid in 1994, is die gevolge van diskriminerende wetgewing in terme van sosio-ekonomiese ongelykhede tussen bevolkingsgroepe in Suid Afrika nog steeds sigbaar. Nietemin het die Indiër bevolking van Suid Afrika, in vergelyking met Kleurlinge en Swartes, gedurende Apartheid 'n duidelike ekonomiese voorsprong behou. Hierdie dinamika is inderdaad verwarrend aangesien al drie hierdie bevolkingsgroepe aan diskriminerende Apartheidswetgewing onderworpe was. In 'n poging om 'n toepaslike verklarende veranderlike vir hierdie tendens te vind, ondersoek hierdie studie sosiale kapitaal (sosiale netwerke en norme van wederkerigheid en vertroue). Die Indiër bevolking, wat in 1860 as kontrakarbeiders op Natal se suikerplantasies in die land aangekom het, toon inderdaad selfs na die afskaffing van Apartheid nog spesifieke tendense met betrekkeng tot hulle onderlinge sosiale bande. Teen die agtergrond van hierdie dinamika het hierdie studie ten doel om die verband tussen vlakke van sosiale kapitaal en inkomstegenerering onder Swartes, Kleurlinge en Indiërs te ontleed. Die hipotese word gestel dat 'n duidelike stel gemeenskaplike netwerke onder Indiërs, gevorm deur spesifieke historiese gebeure, direk verband hou met hierdie bevolkingsgroep se verhoogde kapasiteit vir inkomstegenerering. Die verskillende dimensies van sosiale kapitaal wat in hierdie studie ontleed word, sluit in: lidmaatskap van vrywillige organisasies, informele sosiale bande, deelname aan Godsdienstige aktiwiteite en vertoue. Die studie bevind dat veral informele sosiale bande aan Indiërs 'n duidelike ekonomiese voorsprong bied. Hierdie bevinding bly onveranderd selfs nadat die invloed van opvoeding in ag geneem word. Hierdie verkennende studie lewer dus 'n waardevolle bydrae tot die ontleding van sosiale kapitaal tussen verskillende bevolkingsgroepe in Suid Afrika en baan sodoende die weg vir die ontwikkeling van meer geldige aanwysers in die toekoms. Sulke studies sal die saad moet identifiseer wat geplant moet word om die organiese groei van sosiale kapitaal te stimuleer, nie net binne nie, maar meer belangrik tussen bevolkingsgroepe. Dit sal sonder twyfel 'n blywende bydrae lewer om die sosio-ekonomiese uitdagings wat Suid Afrika se ontwikkelende demokrasie tans ondervind, volledig aan te spreek.

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