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Chronic and structural poverty in South Africa: challenges for action and research.

Andries du Toit


Ten years after liberation, the persistence of poverty is one of the most important and urgent questions facing South Africa. This paper reflects on some of the findings of research undertaken as part of the participation of the Programme on Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape in the work of the Chronic Poverty Research Centre, situates it within the broader literature on poverty in South Africa, and considers some emergent challenges. Though PLAAS's survey, being only the first wave of a panel study, does not yet cast light on short term poverty dynamics, it illuminates key aspects of the structural conditions that underpin poverty that lasts for a long time: the close interactions between asset poverty, employment vulnerability and subjection to unequal social power relations. Coming to grips with these dynamics requires going beyond the limitations of conventional "sustainable livelihoods" analyses and functionalist analyses of South African labour markets. The paper argues for a re-engagement with the traditions of critical sociology, anthropology and the theoretical traditions that allow a closer exploration of the political economy of chronic poverty at micro and macro level.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Working Paper


concepts adverse incorporation social relations data livelihoods South Africa labour

ISBN: 1-904049-55-9


Chronic and structural poverty in South Africa PDF 787.5 KB

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