Racial and Class Discrimination in Assessments of Desert in Postapartheid Cape Town

Jeremy Seekings

in Discrimination in an Unequal World

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199732166
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866144 | DOI:
Racial and Class Discrimination in Assessments of Desert in Postapartheid Cape Town

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In multiracial or otherwise multicultural societies, people may discriminate in the allocation of scarce resources against members of particular racial or cultural groups. This chapter examines how people in postapartheid South Africa assess the desert of others in terms of access to social assistance from the state and employment opportunities. It uses attitudinal survey data from Cape Town — a city characterized by both inequality and cultural diversity — to examine who is viewed as deserving and undeserving of public assistance. In particular, it explores whether perceptions of desert reflect racial discrimination. It is shown that there are clear perceptions of what kinds of poor people are considered deserving of public assistance and who is considered undeserving, that these perceptions are shared widely across the population, and that explicit racial consideration makes little or no differences to these perceptions. These patterns contrast with those in some other areas of public life — including, notably, employment decisions — where racial differences are evident. One lesson from the chapter is that there are some areas of public policy that are likely to be relatively amenable to building cross-racial support for interracial redistribution.

Keywords: resource allocation; racial discrimination; post-apartheid South Africa; social assistance; attitudinal surveys; inequality; poor people

Chapter.  8895 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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