The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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About the book

State of the nation: Quality of life and wellbeing in South Africa, focuses on new, fresh and relevant directions that focus on quality of life and notions of well-being. As in preceding volumes, in the spirit of stimulating debate, we seek to make two important qualifications to clarify the approach we are taking in this edition. Firstly, we caution against the overly homogenising idea of the economy being determinative. Conscious and respectful as we are of structuralist explanations of poverty, inequality, quality of life and well-being, we take a multidisciplinary approach in this volume. Secondly, we argue against the idea that income inequality adequately encompasses other variables such as ‘race’, gender, culture and so on, and can be rendered as a proxy for them. While we recognise the important place of the economy in the broader project of development, this volume also responds (as we have done with recent editions of State of the Nation, see Soudien, Reddy & Woolard,2019; Bohler-Muller, Soudien & Reddy, 2021) with some caution to an economic instrumentalisation of poverty and inequality and its relevance for quality of life and well-being simply through models and metrics (see also Jenkins and Micklewright, 2007). We take this approach to conceptualise a framing of human development and well-being, the focus of this volume, which is integrated and cross-cutting.

The volume is distinctive because it will be the first fully dedicated text focused on quality of life and well-being in the State of the Nation. It offers a range of perspectives on quality of life in ways that aim to reflect the complex interdependence of how people make lives for themselves and contribute to the lives of others. We argue that it is in this complex act of making lives, individuals acting in their own interests and the government articulating an agenda for the nation, that we are able to discern the outlines of the state in which the nation finds itself.

Product information

Format : 168mm x 240mm
Pages : 352
ISBN 13 : 978-0-7969-2663-0
Publish Year : February 2024
Rights : World Rights



Part 1: Quality of Life, Politics, and the State

Chapter 1:

Vasu Reddy, Narnia Bohler-Muller, Zitha Mokomane and Crain Soudien

Chapter 2:

Prof Narnia Bohler-Muller

Chapter 3:

Prof Joleen Steyn Kotze

Chapter 4:

Professor Lawrence Hamilton

Chapter 5:

Prof Irma Eloff

Part 2: Economics

Chapter 6:

Prof Justine Burns

Chapter 7:

Prof Monde Makiwane and Dr Monde Faku

Chapter 8:

Dr Carolyn Chisadza and Prof Margaret Chitiga-Mabugu, Dr Kehinde O. Omotoso

Part 3: Society, Culture, Identity and the Public Good

Chapter 9:

Prof Kopano Ratele, Dr Carmine Rustin, Prof Maria Florence

Chapter 10:

Dr Safura Abdool Karim, Maanda Mudau, Prof Quaraisha Abdool Karim, Prof Koleka Mlisana

Chapter 11:

Dr Benjamin Roberts, Dr Yul Derek Davids, Dr Jare Struwig, Prof Valarie Moller

Chapter 12:

Dr Steven Lawrence Gordon

Chapter 13:

Prof Karin van Marle

Chapter 14:

Prof Nomusa Makhubu

Part 4: South Africa and the World

Chapter 15:

Prof Sandy Africa

Chapter 16:

Prof ’Funmi Olonisakin, Dr Damilola Adegoke, Dr Alagaw Ababu Kifle



About Editors

Prof Narnia Bohler-Muller (BJuris LLB LLM LLD) was Professor of Law at Vista University and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) before joining Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) as director of social sciences in 2011. Currently she is Divisional Executive of the Developmental, Capable and Ethical State research programme at the HSRC, and former adjunct Professor of the Nelson R Mandela School of Law, University of Fort Hare and a Research Fellow with the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies, University of Free State. Her research interests include international and constitutional law, human rights, democracy, governance and social justice. In 2016 she was shortlisted as one of 14 candidates for the position of Public Protector.

Prof Vasu Reddy is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Internationalisation), University of the Free State. A Professor of Sociology, he was also former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is also research Associate in the Department of Sociology, University of Pretoria. He is an NRF B1 rated researcher with primary research interests in genders, sexualities, poverty, inequalities, and more specifically the history of ideas. He is a member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf). Beyond articles in these areas, more recent publications are Queer in Africa: LGBTQI Identities, Citizenship and Activism (with Zethu Matebeni & Surya Monro, 2018; Routledge); Queer Kinship: South African perspectives on the sexual politics of family-making and belonging (with Tracy Morison and Ingrid Lynch, UNISA Press & Routledge, in 2018); State of the Nation: Poverty and Inequalities – Diagnosis, Prognosis, Responses (with Crain Soudien & Ingrid Woolard, HSRC Press, 2019); The Fabric of Dissent: Public Intellectuals in South Africa (lead editor with Narnia Bohler-Muller, Greg Houston, Maxi Schoeman & Heather Thuynsma, HSRC Press, 2020); State of the Nation: Ethics, Politics, Inequalities: New Directions (with Narnia Bohler-Muller & Crain Soudien, HSRC Press, 2021), University on the Border: Crisis of Authority and precarity (with Liz Lange & Siseko Kumalo, 2021, SUN Press) and Texture of Dissent: Defiant Public Intellectuals in South Africa (with Narnia Bohler-Muller, N; Greg Houston, Maxi Schoeman and Heather Thuynsma, HSRC Press, 2022).

Prof Zitha Mokomane is a Professor and Head in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She holds a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Demography, both from the Australian National University. Her research portfolio, which is diverse in character, involving both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and ranging from desk-top studies focusing on secondary data analysis and policy analysis and/or formation, seeks to generate a new understanding of how prevailing socioeconomic and demographic changes interact with various family dynamics to impact the welfare, well-being, and functioning of families and their members. She has published a number of journal articles, book chapters, and edited books on issues related to her research focus. Her recent outputs that are directly related to this current volume include ‘The relationship between social welfare policy and multidimensional well-being: An analysis using the South African Child Support Grant’ (Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa, 2020) which she co-authored with Adam Cooper and Angelina Wilson Fadiji and the 2019 edited volume Family Values, Cohesion and Strengthening in South Africa (with Benjamin Roberts, Jarè Struwig and Steven Gordon; HSRC Press). Zitha has a C2 rating from the National Research Foundation and in 2019 she received the Best-Established Researcher Award from the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria

Prof Crain Soudien was educated in the fields of education and African Studies at the Universities of Cape Town, South Africa and the State University of New York at Buffalo. His PhD dissertation from Buffalo was on South African youth identity. He is a former deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, where he remains an emeritus professor in Education and African Studies and the former Chief Executive Officer of the Human Sciences Research Council. He has honorary professorial appointments at the Nelson Mandela University, the University of Johannesburg and has recently been appointed as the President of the Cornerstone Institute, a non-profit private higher education institute based in Cape Town, South Africa. His publications in the areas of social difference, culture, education policy, comparative education, educational change, public history and popular culture include four books, one co-authored book, six edited collections and over 250 articles, reviews, reports, and book chapters. He is currently working on six books, including a two-volume history of education in South Africa, the first of which is to appear in 2024, and a book on the ‘idea of race’. He has an A-rating in the South African research system. He is actively involved in a number of local, national and international social and cultural organisations and is chairperson of the Independent Examinations Board, a founder and former chairperson of the District Six Museum Foundation, a former president of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies, and has served as the chair of three South African Ministerial Committees of Enquiry, including the Ministerial Committee on Transformation in Higher Education and the Ministerial Committee to Evaluate Textbooks for Discrimination. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Education, the African Academy of Science, a Senior Fellow of NORRAG, Geneva Graduate Institute, a member of the Academy of Science of South African, a Chen Yidan Visiting Global Fellow at Harvard University, a former fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies, the SARCHI Chair in Development Education, UNISA and the Centre for Global Citizenship Education and Research, University of Alberta in Canada. He serves on the boards of a number of cultural, heritage, education, and civil society structures.

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