Race, Class, and the Changing Division of Labour under Apartheid

Race, Class, and the Changing Division of Labour under Apartheid

Race, Class, and the Changing Division of Labour under Apartheid

Race, Class, and the Changing Division of Labour under Apartheid

Synopsis

As the only comprehensive empirical analysis of the changing racial and occupational structure of the urban workforce in South Africa under apartheid, this study will make an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the complex inter-relations of past and present racial inequality and economic development in South Africa.

Excerpt

This book is a study of the changing relationship between racial and class divisions in the urban population in South Africa during the apartheid period. As an analysis of the relationship between racial and class divisions, this study does not entail a new approach to racial inequality in South Africa. A substantial body of research, conducted over the last three decades, has enriched our understanding of how the class dynamics of South Africa’s expanding capitalist economy have complemented and contradicted the policies and practices of the apartheid state. However, with the exception of some earlier studies by Wolpe, and by Simkins and Hindson, there has been no systematic study of the changing relationship between racial divisions and the class structure of the South African population. Where scholars have applied theories of class to racial divisions in South Africa, they have done so in order to understand the political behaviour of the state and of particular social groups. For example, there is a large literature which examines the class basis of changes in the relationships between the apartheid state, organised business and trade unions. Similarly, a number of scholars have been concerned to understand the class basis for the political behaviour of the white working class and the African middle class. So, although these studies have provided us with an understanding of how the changing class interests of organised business and organised labour have influenced their political relationship to apartheid policies and practices, we still lack a systematic understanding of the racial and class structure of the South African population and how this was shaped by capitalist economic growth and apartheid policies. The aim of this study is to fill this gap in our knowledge by documenting and explaining the changing patterns of racial and class inequality among the urban workforce during the apartheid period.

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