Substantive equality, affirmative action and the alleviation of poverty in South Africa : a socio-legal inquiry

Katiyatiya, Luyando Martha (2014-04)

Thesis (LLD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Substantive equality is a constitutional imperative, hence the need for strategies that attempt to realise it for the sake of genuine social reconstruction. The principle of equality runs through all other rights in the South African Constitution. Be that as it may, equality is an elusive concept, which makes its achievement an ambitious task. Nonetheless, there are strategies that attempt to bring to the fore the ‘substance’ of the concept in order to ensure the actual realisation of socio-economic benefits. Such strategies include, among others: social security, education, economic empowerment, skills development and affirmative action. This study will focus on the latter of these strategies, namely affirmative action. Although affirmative action is practised around the world, one of the (many) criticisms of the policy is that it fails to bring about substantive or structural change. In other words, it may change the racial and gender composition of the classroom or the workplace, but does not address the challenges that cause the disadvantages of marginalised groups in the first place. It is arguable that affirmative action has increased inequality in South Africa by benefiting the apex of the class structure and not the majority of the population living in abject poverty. This study develops a theoretical analysis of the link between status (race, sex and ethnicity) and socio-economic disadvantage, and the central question that the study addresses is the following: How can the policy of affirmative action be redesigned to ensure that it benefits the socio-economically disadvantaged? A secondary question that is investigated is whether affirmative action can contribute to the development of human capacities in the context of poverty alleviation. It is arguable that substantive equality facilitates the adoption of strategies (such as affirmative action) to address socio-economic inequality, poverty and social exclusion. The research suggests that a paradigm shift is necessary in order to reconceive of affirmative action as a policy that does not only focus on ensuring ‘equitable representation’ of disadvantaged groups in the workforce or the classroom, but also provides for the development of human capacities. This can be achieved if one adopts an expansive view of affirmative action and if one utilises class as one of the numerous criteria for determining the beneficiaries of the policy.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Substantiewe gelykheid is ′n grondwetlike vereiste, vandaar die behoefte om strategieë te ontwikkel wat poog om dit te realiser in die belang van daadwerklike sosiale rekonstruksie. Die beginsel van gelykheid is vervleg met alle ander regte in die Suid-Afrikaanse Grondwet. Gelykheid is nietemin ′n ontwykende konsep, en dit maak die bereiking daarvan ′n ambisieuse taak. Daar is egter strategieë wat gemik is daarop om sosio-ekonomiese voordele te bereik. Voorbeelde van sodanige strategieë sluit in sosiale sekuriteit, opvoeding, ekonomiese bemagtiging, die ontwikkeling van vaardighede, en regstellende aksie. Hierdie studie fokus op laasgenoemde strategie, naamlik regstellende aksie. Ten spyte van die feit dat regstellende aksie regoor die wêreld toegepas word, word die beleid nietmin gekritiseer as sou dit nie werklik wesenlike of strukturele verandering teweeg bring nie. Met ander woorde, dit bring moontlik ‘n verandering teweeg in die rasse-en geslagsamestelling van die klaskamer of die werkplek, maar spreek nie die uitdagings aan wat in die eerste plek lei tot die posisie van relatiewe benadeling waarin gemarginaliseerde groepe hulself bevind nie. Sommige argumenteer dat regstellende aksie bydra tot ongelykheid in Suid-Afrika deur voordele te beperk tot diegene wat hulself aan die toppunt van die klasstruktuur bevind terwyl dit die meerderheid van die bevolking wat in armoede leef ignoreer. Hierdie studie ontwikkel ′n teoretiese ontleding van die verband tussen status (ras, geslag en etnisiteit) en sosio-ekonomiese benadeling. Die sentrale vraag van die studie is die volgende: Hoe kan die beleid van regstellende aksie herontwerp word om te verseker dat dit lei tot die bevoordeling van die sosio-ekonomiese benadeeldes? ’n Sekondêre vraag wat in die studie onder die loep kom is of regstellende aksie ’n bydrae kan maak tot die ontwikkeling van menslike vermoë in die konteks van armoedeverligting. Daar kan geragumenteer word dat die strewe na substantiewe gelykheid strategieë (soos regstellende aksie) na vore bring om sosio-ekonomiese ongelykheid, armoede en sosiale uitsluiting aan te spreek. Die navorsing dui daarop dat ′n paradigmaskuif nodig is om regstellende aksie te herkonseptualiseer as ′n beleid wat nie net fokus op die bereiking van ‘billike verteenwoordiging’ van benadeelde groepe in die werkplek of klaskamer nie, maar ook voorsiening maak vir die ontwikkeling van menslike vermoë. Dit kan bereik word deur die aanvaarding van ’n uitgebreide siening van regstellende aksie en deur die benutting van klas as een van menige faktore wat in ag geneem word om die bevoordeeldes van die beleid te identifiseer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86607
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