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27 May 2024

WATCH: Prof Narnia Bohler-Muller on democracy and social justice

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

Democracy is in decline all over the world – and it is particularly concerning that, after 30 years of freedom in South Africa, only 36% of citizens believe democracy has been successful.  

This alarming fact was presented to delegates on the second day of the Trialogue Business in Society Conference by Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, divisional executive of the Developmental, Capable and Ethical State research programme at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).  

Bohler-Muller delivered a TRI Talk on the topic ‘Democracy and social justice: realising our freedoms’ just two weeks before the national election on 29 May 2004. She drew on the results of an HSRC household survey of South Africans 16 years and older (SASAS), which has been running for 20 years, providing strong longitudinal data about the state of democracy in the country.  

Although 51% of South Africans believe life has improved since 1994, there are declining levels of life satisfaction as a whole, with the prevailing mood one of hopelessness and despondency.  

“This kind of despondency can lead to political, social and economic instability,” Bohler-Muller explained, adding that the current lack of trust is due to the fact that “we don’t have efficient governance systems, or people working towards attaining social justice through the mechanisms we already have, as well as mediocre service delivery”.   

Watch the talk:

The SASAS dataset collection can be viewed and downloaded here.

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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