Is Multiculturalism a Workable Policy in South Africa?

Simon Bekker & Anne Leildé

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Abstract

After pervasive political violence during the late apartheid years, has the South African Government developed a policy akin to multiculturalism and how effectively is this policy being implemented? Why does violence along ethnic and racial lines appear to have diminished in South Africa since its democratic transition in the early 1990s and is this related in any way to such a policy? These two questions are discussed in three steps – first, a short constitutional history of transition in South Africa over the past decade is given; second, as these constitutional provisions may be viewed as state attempts to construct new identities “from above”, the identities of South African citizens that appear to be emerging “from below” are discussed. Identity construction “from above” is a state strategy aimed at legitimising new state institutions. Simultaneously, citizens’ identities – influenced as they are by such strategies – are constructed “from below” within the full range of institutions in which citizens act. As a third step, a preliminary scan is made of institutions operating at local level within different groupings of citizens.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Bekker, Simon & Leildé, Anne. Is Multiculturalism a Workable Policy in South Africa? IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2003, vol. 5, no.2, pp. 119-134. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol5/issue2/art2

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