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Since the transition to democracy in 1994, South Africa has become a well documented nation. A multitude of national and sub-national studies have been conducted, yielding a wealth of information about the characteristics of South African society, and how these have evolved over time. However, less is known about how South Africans feel about their world and themselves. There remains much scope for deepening our understanding of the publics values, chronicling how these have been changing, and determining the extent to which different segments of the population vary in their attitudes and beliefs.
If you are sitting in a South African school or university right now, you need to put aside 1948 and "Bantu Education" as a primary target of enquiry – these were little more than steps along a road that was already paved – and study when, where and how your institution came into being in the first place. This book joins the growing body of work (much of it by South African scholars) displacing the many mind-numbingly dull texts loaded with assumptions and logics that, in the case of South Africa, reify a simplified colonial explanation of the past. Generations of students, educators and policymakers have suffered enough through tedious though inaccurate history books disguised as dispassionate, impartial views of "the facts."
South Africa´s fourth non-racial democratic election in 2009 caps fifteen years of state transformation. This period has been marked by unprecedented changes in state institutional architecture and policies governing the functioning of state organs, the complexity of which have been periodically reviewed by government.
State of the Nation: South Africa 2008 is the fifth volume in the annual series published by the HSRC Press. This volume will feature a range of pertinent and captivating contemporary viewpoints on South African politics, society, economy and international relations. As with earlier editions, commentary is drawn from the ranks of academics, political analysts, civil society and the research community.