News & events


Making Better Lives For Themselves? The Stories of People on the Ground

28 March 2018
13:30 - 00:00

The book Development, Social Policy and Community Action: Lessons from Below will be launched On Wednesday, 28 March in Johannesburg and addresses the questions: (1) How do citizens in poor communities benefit from and perceive state interventions? (2) How do citizens in poor communities interact with others in the community to promote the well-being of themselves and their families? (3) What are the implications of the above for community based research, policy and practice?

Prof Crane Soudien, Chief Executive Officer at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), will deliver the key note address at the book launch. In a short preview of his thoughts on the book, Prof Soudien describes the book as a reflection on agency and how people, in the face of incredible odds – for example, the social stigmatisation that comes with child support grants being labelled ‘imali yeqolo’, which literally translates to ‘lying down money’ and the persistent challenge of making ends meet with very little – are holding on to a sense of their dignity and trying to turn around the conditions in which they find themselves.

Prof Soudien adds that engaged scholarship such as this book allows us to understand more fully and in much more rounded ways how South Africans are actually crafting a new road for themselves in an attempt to shift the conditions in which they find themselves.

The book is edited Professor Leila Patel, South African Research Chair in Welfare and Social Development and Director at the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA), and Dr. Marianne Ulrikssen, CSDA Research Associate. It contains 13 chapters contributed by various local and international researchers and students.

Book launch details

About the book – it is based on rigorous and multi-faceted research conducted in the poor, urban area of Doornkop, Soweto. Solutions to poverty and inequality are often designed, implemented and evaluated in a top-down manner, thereby disregarding the views and agency of citizens themselves. Addressing this gap, the authors explore how government assistance, through social grants and social services, as well as community support mechanisms provide solutions to citizens living in poor communities and the ways that the citizens perceive and make use of such interventions. This research study points to the need for more nuanced policy strategies and interventions pertinent to local challenges which also resonate with the global search for solutions in similar contexts.

When: 28 March 2018 at 13:30 for 14:00
Where: UJ Arts Theatre Foyer, University of Johannesburg, Kingsway Campus, Corner of Kingsway Avenue and University Road, Auckland Park

Editor Biographies
Leila Patel is the South African Research Chair in Welfare and Social Development, Centre for Social Development in Africa, University of Johannesburg. She played a leading role in the development of welfare policy post-apartheid. Her research has   contributed to welfare policy, social grants, children and youth, corporate social responsibility and gender and development issues and has been widely recognised locally and internationally.  Recent books include Development, Social Policy and Community Action (2017), HSRC Press; Social Welfare and Social Development in South Africa (2015),  Oxford University Press and Social Protection in Southern Africa (2014), Routledge. See publications at

Marianne S. Ulriksen works at the Danish Centre for Welfare Studies, University of Southern Denmark, and is affiliated to the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) as a Senior Research Fellow. Marianne’s research areas include comparative politics, political economy of welfare policy development, social protection, social justice, poverty and inequality, mineral wealth and resource mobilisation, and state–citizens relations. Her research work focuses primarily on Southern and Eastern Africa. She has published widely, including in journals like World Development and Comparative Political Studies.

About the Centre for Social Development in Africa
The Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA), at the University of Johannesburg, was established in 2003 and is dedicated to basic, applied and strategic research in social development and developmental welfare. The CSDA aims to positively influence development issues in South Africa and the Southern African region through contributing to debates on social policy, improvements in service delivery and the expansion of knowledge through cutting-edge research.

Thobile Zulu
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