National identity and nation-building in post-apartheid South Africa

Stinson, Andrew Todd (2010) National identity and nation-building in post-apartheid South Africa. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Throughout South Africa‟s post-Apartheid history, the ANC-led government has undertaken a distinct nation- building program in pursuit of “a truly united, democratic and prosperous South Africa” (ANC, 2007). This is reflected in a two-pronged approach, coupling political and socio-economic transformation with the social-psychological aspect of forging a broad and inclusive national consciousness. The ANC‟s “rainbow nation” approach embraces cultural diversity through what I shall call the practice of “interculturalism”. Interculturalism is a way of recognizing commonalities, reducing tensions and promoting the formation of social partnerships among different cultural groups. The ANC has also promoted a civic culture based on the principles of liberal democracy, non-racism, equality and the protection of individual rights. Interculturalism and civic nationalism are critically important factors to South African nation-building since together they foster a shared public culture and support meaningful participation in the creation of a truly just and democratic South Africa. Unfortunately, in many ways South African society remains deeply divided by race, ethnicity and economic inequality. This thesis analyses various theoretical approaches to national identity and nation-building with the aim of identifying several concepts which arguably throw light on the problems of South African nation-building and national identity formation. It is argued that interculturalism and civic nationalism are context appropriate approaches which have been adopted by the ANC to further an inclusive sense of shared public culture and promote participation in the creation of a shared public future. These approaches have led to the limited emergence of a broad South African national identity. However, South Africa‟s commitment to socio-economic transformation has been less successful in generating widespread support for a broad national identity. While some of those previously disadvantaged under Apartheid have benefited from poverty alleviation schemes, service delivery initiatives and black economic empowerment programs, many continue to suffer from homelessness, unemployment and worsening economic conditions. Increasing economic marginalization has caused growing discontent among South Africa‟s poor and constitutes the biggest threat to the formation of a cohesive national identity in South African society. Ultimately, it is argued that while interculturalism and civic nationalism have played an important role in fostering the growth of a broad national identity, true South African social cohesion will fail to emerge without a massive and sustained commitment to wide-ranging socio-economic transformation.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Post-apartheid era - South Africa, South Africa|xPolitics and government - 1994-, Nationalism - South Africa, Civil society - South Africa, Democracy - South Africa, South Africa - Social policy, Ethnicity - South Africa, South Africa - Economic conditions - 1991-, South Africa - Social conditions|y1994-
Subjects:J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Political Studies and International Studies
Supervisors:Fluxman, Tony
ID Code:1852
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:10 Dec 2010 09:58
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:21
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