Journal Article

Recognition without empowerment: Minorities in a democratic South Africa

Christina Murray and Richard Simeon

in International Journal of Constitutional Law

Published on behalf of The New York University School of Law

Volume 5, issue 4, pages 699-729
Published in print October 2007 | ISSN: 1474-2640
Published online October 2007 | e-ISSN: 1474-2659 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icon/mom025
Recognition without empowerment: Minorities in a democratic South Africa

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Many commentators, both inside and outside South Africa, predicted that, once the heavy hand of white minority rule was lifted, ethnic and linguistic divisions within the African majority would gain new salience, resulting in widespread conflict in a divided South Africa. These predictions have not been borne out. South Africa remains a highly diverse, and highly unequal, society. But a political accommodation across the broad racial divide has been reached; and divisions within the African community, while still present, have decreased, rather than increased. Why? We consider a number of explanations, but focus our attention on the South African constitutional design, which gives strong recognition to diversity and difference in private life, while seeking to the greatest extent possible to prevent ethnocultural differences entering the public sphere. We trace this through the fundamental principles set out in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the designation of a multisphere government, and other provisions. As the significance of ethnocultural difference has declined, South African politics has become increasingly focused on economic differences.

Journal Article.  13608 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; UK Politics

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