Pathways to understanding white poverty in South Africa 1902 to 1948

Cowlin, John Richard (2018-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis examines the social and economic circumstances of descendants of mainly Dutch settlers who became known as the poor whites during the early part of the 20th century. Attention is given to particular aspects of rural pastoral society such as farming methods, education, land usage and demographics. A brief sketch of the South African economy prior to the mineral revolution has been included in order to understand the impact on the poor white of the discovery of diamonds and gold which became a trigger for future industrialisation. The widespread failure of their subsistence pastoral economy led to significant urbanisation mainly on the Witwatersrand. The concerns of the Dutch Reformed Church and later Afrikaner politicians for a solution to the poor white problem led to the establishment of the Carnegie Commission, funded mainly by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. An important aspect of the thesis pertains to the way in which knowledge about the poor whites has been produced. The findings and recommendations of the commission are combined with the opinions of historians, economists and poverty writers and presented as part of this thesis. The manipulation of race theories was initially used to provide a justification for segregation between white and black. Later in the century the poor whites were incorporated into the white middle-class with a combination of preferential employment policies, stricter segregation and inclusion in the Afrikaner Nationalist project. Considerable attention is devoted to the influence of scientific racism and eugenics on the changing nature of race relations during the period under review. The overall conclusion argues that urbanisation and industrialisation provided a suitable environment where the process of inclusion of the poor white into Afrikanerdom could be finally concluded.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek die sosio-ekonomiese omstandighede van die afstammelinge van hoofsaaklik Nederlandse setlaars, wat as die arm blankes bekend gestaan het gedurende die vroeë 20ste eeu. Daar word in die besonder aandag geskenk aan aspekte van die landelike pastorale samelewings, ook demografie, die gebruik van grond, boerderymetodes, asook opvoeding. Om die impak van die ontdekking van diamante en goud (wat toekomstig industrialisering aangevoer het) op die arm blankes beter te begryp, word daar kortliks verwys na die Suid Afrikaanse ekonomie voor die minerale revolusie. Die wydverspreide mislukking van hul bestaans pastorale ekonomie, het gelei tot beduidende verstedeliking -hoofsaaklik op die Witwatersrand. Die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk en later die Afrikaner politici se bekommernisse oor die arm blanke probleem, asook hul soektog na ‘n oplossing, het gelei tot die stigting van die Carnegie-kommissie wat hoofsaaklik deur die Carnegie Corporation van New York befonds was. ’n Belangrike aspek van die tesis is die wyse waarop kennis oor die armblankes gegenereer is. Die bevindinge asook aanbevelings van die kommissie, word gekombineer met die menings van historici, ekonome en armoede skrywers en aangebied as deel van hierdie tesis. Die manipulasie van rasteorieë is aanvanklik gebruik om apartheid tussen swart en wit te regverdig. Die arm blankes is later gedurende die eeu by die wit middelklas ingesluit, met ‘n kombinasie van voorkeur-indiensnemingsbeleid, strenger apartheid en insluiting in die Afrikaner Nasionalistiese projek. Daar word aansienlik aandag gegee aan die invloed van wetenskaplike rassisme en eugenetika op die veranderende aard van rasseverhoudinge gedurende die tydperk ter sprake. Die algehele gevolgtrekking beweer dat verstedeliking en industrialisasie 'n gunstige omgewing voorsien het waar die proses van insluiting van die arm blanke binne die Afrikanerdom, finaal afgehandel kon word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105027
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