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Hybrid Social Citizenship and the Normative Centrality of Wage Labor in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Author(s): Franco Barchiesi

Journal: Mediations
ISSN 1075-041x

Volume: 24;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 52;
Date: 2008;
Original page

The post-1994 ANC-led government has tried to combine institutional interventions aimed at overcoming racialized social inequality with a fundamental acceptance of the need to make the economy competitive within the scenarios of neoliberal globalization. The resulting social policy discourse placed a priority on waged employment and individual job-seeking initiative, to the detriment of universal, non-work-related social programs. The state’s promotion of a form of social disciplining centered on wage labor has, however, clashed with a material reality in which waged employment faces an enduring crisis evident in both spiraling unemployment and the proliferation of precarious and unprotected occupations underscoring growing working-class poverty. The policy discourse’s growing inability to reflect material realities of marginalization in relation to the crisis of waged employment raises important questions concerning the capacity of the new institutional dispensation to govern South Africa’s long transition.
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