#SARB2014 Findings

#SARB 2014 Findings

On the 03 December 2014 the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) launched their SARB 2014 report, titled Reflecting on Reconciliation: Lessons of Past, Prospects for the Future. This report analysed over 10 years of SARB data, to review past progress, present relevance and future challenges for Reconciliation in South Africa.  An electronic version of the SARB 2014 report can be found on this link http://bit.ly/12milw3













The blog series #SARB 2014 findings will provide an ongoing summary of the key findings of the SARB 2014 report.  The following topics will be covered: :

  • #1 Political Culture : South African Identity
  • #2 Racial Integration and Class Inequality
  • #3 Memory Politics
  • #4 Race, Identity and Reconciliation


This post presents SARB 2014 finding on the topic of #1 political culture and South African Identity.

Reconciliation requires that South Africans feel like they belong to a common national identity which is inclusive, rather than exclusionary, and in which they can trust one another. A political culture of inclusivity is important for reconciliation. The SARB measures South African identity through a number of questions such as whether citizens believe that a united South Africa is possible and desirable, which identities they associate with most strongly, and whether they trust each other across race groups. The following three findings summarise the results to these questions and then provide an interpretation to what appears to be a contradiction in these results:

  • South Africans disillusioned with the idea of a united nation: Figure 1 (p16) of the SARB, assesses the degree to which South Africans agree that a united South African identity is possible and desirable. The desire for a united South Africa has decreased by 17.9%, from 72.9% in 2003 to 55% in 2013. This result indicates that South Africans appear to be disillusioned with the idea of a united South Africa. Amidst realities of diversity and inequality, perhaps the idea of unity is simplistic and does not adequately capture these realities.

United Nation.

















  • Racial identity is becoming more salient for South Africans: To further assess South African identity, figure 2 (p16) summarises the results to the question of which social group South Africans associate with most strongly out of a list of 13 possibilities. The salience (importance) of language and race are increasing over time. Race moved from third most selected identity (11.8%) in 2003 to second most selected identity (13.4%) in 2013. In other words, racial identity is increasing in its importance for South Africans. At the same time, South African identity has decreased in importance for South Africans over time, as it was chosen by 11.2% of citizens in 2003 and 7.1% in 2013.


















  • Interracial trust has improved: As figure 3 (p16) shows, interracial mistrust is decreasing over time, in 2003 over 40% of South Africans agreed that people of other races are untrustworthy. In 2013 this figure dropped to less than 30% showing a significant improvement in interracial trust over the past decade.

 Interacial Trust















Conclusion of findings on South African Identity and Political Culture: Reading these findings together on political culture, begs the question: why, if interracial trust is improving, is racial identity becoming stronger and a united South African identity becoming weaker? This contradiction speaks to the complexity with which we have to understand progress in reconciliation.

Perhaps with an increase in trust also comes an increase in the honesty required to confront the continued forms of inequality and injustice that remain in South Africa, thus resulting in increased disillusionment with the idea of unity and an increasing desire to challenge continued forms of racial inequality.

Quoting from the SARB on page 36 sums up this deeper critique of unity and nationhood in the face of inequality that these results point to:

The decreasing desire for a ‘united’ South Africa and the increasing identification with racial identity opens up the space to move towards a shared identity of transformation (engaging difference, power and conflict) rather than assimilation (denying difference, power and conflict). p36.


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