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Socio-economic development of the Coloured community since the Theron Commission

Van Deventer, Gerhardus Johannes (2000-12)

Thesis (MComm)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Poverty is a widespread phenomenon within the coloured community of South Africa. In 1976 the Theron Commission reported on coloured poverty and recommended widespread reform to the apartheid system to incorporate coloureds into social and economic life on an equal footing with whites. The commission was of the opinion that the poorest 40% of coloureds lived in a state of chronic community poverty. This conclusion was based on the culture of poverty approach, which states that negative external factors and an internal process of self-perpetuation can sometimes combine to cause a povertysyndrome. The original culture of poverty approach was widely misinterpreted and criticised and consequently lost much of its support. However, if properly understood, the approach can still be used effectively. Since the Theron commission made a healthy reinterpretation of this approach it also provides a good theoretical framework to analyse coloured poverty. The socio-economic position of coloureds has improved markedly since the era of the Theron commission. Total fertility rates and infant mortality rates declined, while life expectancy increased. The educational status of coloureds increased considerably. There is, however, still a large disparity between rural and urban coloureds. The per capita income of coloureds almost doubled in this period. This rise in income can be attributed to an improvement in occupational status (which was in turn influenced by an improvement in educational status) as well as a decrease in wage discrimination. In spite of the overall improvement in the socio-economic position of coloureds, poverty rates did not decrease significantly since the era of the Theron Commission. Although poverty is still more widespread in rural areas, there has been a relative improvement in the socioeconomic position of rural coloureds and agricultural labourers. This has partly been caused by the urbanisation of the rural poor. Coloured poverty is, however, still at much lower levels than black poverty. Since the era of the Theron Commission the culture of poverty has been positively influenced by several factors: racial discrimination in public education and other social spending decreased, levels of education improved and contributed to the rise in per capita income, social work has become better focussed and is provided on a more equal basis and the socio-political emancipation of coloureds were achieved with the rise of a democratic society. However, it seems that the good economic growth rates during the 1960's and early 1970's provided the biggest thrust to the upward socio-economic mobility of coloureds and played a more important role than the Theron report or any other socio-political changes. It can be concluded that the culture of poverty as it existed at the time of the Theron report has weakened considerably and that the approach should therefore not be used as the basic model to describe the socio-economic position of poor coloureds any more. Current anti-poverty measures should be focussed on job creation, community building and education.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Armoede is 'n wydverspreide probleem in die kleurlinggemeenskap van Suid- Afrika. In 1976 het die Theron Kommissie ondersoek ingestel na kleurling armoede en hulle het drastiese veranderinge aan die apartheidstelsel voorgestel om die sosio-ekonomiese vooruitgang van kleurlinge te verseker. Die kommissie het aangevoer dat die armste 40% van die kleurlingbevolking in 'n toestand van chroniese gemeenskapsarmoede verkeer. Hierdie gevolgtrekking is gebaseer op die kultuur van armoede teorie, wat veronderstel dat In armoedesiklus kan ontstaan wanneer daar 'n wisselwerking is tussen negatiewe omgewingsfaktore en In interne proses van selfvoortplanting deur middel van die gesin. Die oorspronklike kultuur van armoede benadering was onderhewig aan verskeie misinterpretasies en kritiek en het derhalwe baie aanhang verloor. Tog kan die kultuur van armoede teorie steeds met vrug aangewend word indien dit korrek toegepas word. Aangesien die Theron Kommissie die oorspronklike teorie op In gesonde manier geherinterpreteer het, verskaf dit 'n goeie teoretiese raamwerk waarbinne kleurlingarmoede ondersoek kan word. Die sosio-ekonomiese posisie van kleurlinge het In merkwaardige verbetering getoon sedert die era van die Theron Kommissie. Fertiliteitskoerse en suigelingsterftekoerse het afgeneem, terwyl lewensverwagting toegeneem het. Die onderwyspeil van kleurlinge het ook drasties verbeter, alhoewel daar steeds In groot gaping is tussen landelike en stedelike kleurlinge. Die per capita inkomste van kleurlinge het amper verdubbel in die periode. Die verhoging kan toegeskryf word aan In verhoogde beroepstatus (wat weer deur verbeterde onderwyspeile beïnvloed is) sowel as laer vlakke van loondiskriminasie. Ten spyte van die algehele verbetering in die sosio-ekonomiese posisie van kleurlinge, het armoedevlakke sedert die Theron era nie noemenswaardig verminder nie. Alhoewel armoede steeds wydverspreid is in landelike gebiede, het daar In relatiewe verbetering in die sosio-ekonomiese posisie van landelike kleurlinge en die plaaswerkersgemeenskap plaasgevind. Dit is deels veroorsaak deur verstedeliking van arm landelike inwoners. Kleurling armoede is egter steeds op 'n baie laer vlak as swart armoede. Sedert die era van die Theron Kommissie is die toestand van chroniese gemeenskapsarmoede deur verskeie positiewe faktore beïnvloed: rassediskriminasie ten opsigte van onderwys en ander sosiale besteding het verminder, vlakke van onderwys het verbeter en het bygedra tot 'n verhoging in per capita inkome, sosiale werk is beter gefokus en word op 'n meer gelyke skaal verskaf en met die demokratiseringsproses is die sosio-politiese emansipasie van kleurlinge verkry. Tog lyk dit of die goeie ekonomiese groei van die sestigerjare en vroeë sewentqerjare 'n groter invloed op die opwaartse sosioekonomiese mobiliteit van kleurlinge gehad het as die Theron verslag en ander sosio-politieke veranderinge. Die gevolgtrekking kan gemaak word dat die kultuur van armoede soos dit gemanifesteer het in die tyd van die Theron verslag in so 'n mate verswak het dat die benadering nie meer gebruik moet word as die basiese model om die sosioekonomiese toestand van arm kleurlinge te beskryf nie. Dit beteken egter nie dat daar nie nog steeds akute armoedeprobleme in sekere dele van die kleurlinggemeenskap bestaan nie. Huidige armoede-verligtingsbeleid moet fokus op werkskepping, gemeenskapsbou en onderwys.

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