News & events


Social Polarisation and Migration to Johannesburg

14 April 2015
12:30 - 14:00

Dr Jacqueline Borel-Saladin (Post-doctoral research fellow,

Date:  Tuesday, 14 April     Time: 12:30  – 14:00

Venue:    VCRs, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban

The manufacturing sector, once a major source of urban employment with many skilled, middle-income jobs has declined while the service sector, typified as predominantly either high-skill, high-pay or low-skill, low-pay, has grown. Thus, the decline of manufacturing and growth of services are argued to result in a more polarised society. Low-wage, low-skill service sector jobs are also argued to attract poorly-educated, unskilled immigrants, unable to compete in the urban labour market for any other types of jobs.

Therefore, some scholars argue that immigration contributes to social polarisation by increasing the numbers of low-wage workers. Others hold that an expanded low-wage service sector is only possible in the face of large-scale migration of unskilled workers, and that a strong welfare state can militate against the development of a service proletariat.

Yet, survey and population census data for Gauteng show that only a relatively small amount of low-skill job growth has occurred, despite large-scale in-migration. Furthermore, migrant workers of both sexes and all race groups made significant contributions to the growth in high-skill jobs. The presence of migrants in this case is argued to be more relevant to skewing the occupation distribution towards increasing professionalization rather than increasing social polarisation.

The seminar may be attended in Pretoria, Cape Town or Durban

RSVP by 12  April

Cape Town: Jean Witten (021) 466  8004,   12th Floor, Plein Park Building, Plein Street, Cape Town
Durban: Ridhwaan Khan (031) 242 5400,   1st Floor, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor
Pretoria: Arlene Grossberg (012) 302 2811,  1st  Floor, HSRC Building, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria