Maybe State Capture Report is an Opportune Time, to Remember We Still Have a South Africa to Save

2016-11-04 17:39

As follow-up to my article of how much of the economy is black owned, I need to discuss how relationships between us as South Africans remains the starting block to solving our inequality challenges. Humans are inherently social beings. This is particularly challenging when you consider that without choosing, we have to rely on each other for sustenance, safety, governance, information, and companionship. Production, exchange, and consumption of goods and services largely take place in social settings where the patterns and nature of interactions influence, and are influenced by, economic activity.

I have recently been reading books published in South Africa before 1980 on economic matters, and one them by C. Orpen is titled, “Productivity and Black Workers in South Africa.” The book, published in the early 1970s, tries to establish conditions through which productivity from black workers can be achieved by their white supervisors mindful of the adversarial relationships outside the work place that existed at the time. The book created a window into how artificial relationships needed to be created to ensure that companies still achieved productivity during apartheid.

We require a deep understanding of our social structures without going out of our way to preserve our set positions and perceptions. Consider the following list of ideas as an example:

Criminality is often a social behaviour that is accounting for peer influences and networks of interactions. Thus in trying to curb and fight crime, effective policies can be aimed how the youth form relationships.

Increasing the employment rate and wages of a disadvantaged group requires understanding that many jobs are obtained through social contacts and the underlying social networks exhibit patterns that can result in persistent inequality and poverty traps. This is a fact irrespective of our ideology around it.

Improving the human capital investments of a given group must account for the fact that one’s decisions regarding education and labour market participation are often heavily influenced by their given family support and the influences of friends. The other side of the same coin is Cultural Capital – their style of speech, their dress sense or physical appearance, their English accent, their background-  should not stop them from being invested in.

Integrating schools, not just in terms of ethnic or racial composition, but in terms of friendship formation and cross-group interactions, requires understanding when and why students are compelled to seek friendships with others similar to themselves. Why is this important? Because part of fighting the war on inequality remains forming a society of mutual respect and a society of equals where the formation of cross cultural friendship is imaginable.

Enhancing new technology adoption requires a proper understanding of how peoples’ opinions and beliefs are shaped by human interaction and information sharing between them. Technology inclusiveness remains an uncharted space where the future demands we find ways to allow the poor to interact with technology and access the abundance it can provide. So as part of building a wining society, a philanthropic class needs to emerge to help the marginalised to be included in technology adaption.

Sustaining informal risk-sharing and favour exchange depends on social norms and sanctions and social structure provides new insights into how communities can overcome basic social ailments. All talk of BBBEE and the counter reference to the Act as reverse discrimination remain failures to tabulate common norms and sanctions that should define risk sharing and favour exchanges between those that have and those that do not.

In their book, “The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better”, Wilkinson and Pickett argue that social structures that create relationships based on inequality, inferiority and social exclusion will inflict social pain. They believe that we need to allow a more “sociable” human nature to emerge. If inequality is allowed to thrive they argue it will result in intense competition especially in consumption. The opposite, they believe, will be a society that’s shifting the balance from the divisiveness, self-interest and consumerism towards a more socially integrated society. The mentioning of competition does not make this discos a Capitalism vs Socialism debate, I am talking about a South Africa united for a common cause, that understands that our differences, also includes inequality as a social challenge.

A study conducted by Wilkinson and Pickett showed that countries with high inequality had the following challenges:

 They have high levels of obesity.

Educational attainment is poorer with higher dropout rates

They have less early childhood education.

Teenage pregnancy and birth rates are higher and,

It’s young men from disadvantaged neighbourhoods who are most likely to be the victims and perpetrators of violence

Now this is not my own research work and I can claim the conclusions are anecdotal. I do however worry when I consider how these conclusions are reflective of our society today. We need a new South African consciousness, and I know it should start with a competent and highly efficient performing government. However, allow me to preach as though I was a pastor in church and I felt the calling to protect the moral fibre of our society. We need to consider our neighbour, his journey and his outlook. His victory, overcoming, and success will be our better or enhanced future.

Be Inspired SA!


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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