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    Conference Papers


    Middle-Class in South Africa: Significance, Role and Impact
    Mcebisi Ndletyana, PhD
    Mapungubwe: Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA)
    Johannesburg, South Africa
    BRICS Academic Forum, Rio – Brazil
    March 10, 2014
    Reflections on the middle-class dominate global discourse on the emerging socio-economic trends and their implications for political life in the various countries. South Africa has not been untouched by such discourse. It is a regular feature in the country’s public discourse.
    The curiosity goes beyond the spectacle occasioned by the newness, especially, of the black middle-class, in a country that has just come out of more than 400 years of white supremacist rule. Rather, the interest is also fanned by what this phenomenon portends for South Africa’s political, economic and social lives. This is the focus of our paper.
    Specifically, the chapter accounts for the growth of the middle-class since South Africa’s democratization in 1994. Albeit largely focused on recent history, the preceding years will also receive mention in order to account for why the middle-class has only grown in the last 20 years, and not earlier. The purpose is to answer three, related questions: What does the possibility of social mobility, of blacks into the ranks of the middle-class, implies for the country’s potential to bridge inequality; whether or not the gradual, yet notable, de-racialisation of inequalities promises to consolidate South African democracy; and what is the role of the middle-class in South Africa’s political life.
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    ​​Read more about the BRICS Academic Forum here.

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