SA Reconciliation Barometer Reports (SARB)


The SA Reconciliation Barometer survey is a nationally representative public opinion poll conducted annually by the IJR, which focuses on progress in reconciliation in South Africa. Key issues addressed within the survey include: human security, political culture,  political relationships, dialogue, historical confrontation and race relations.

To find out more about the survey, click here.

To download copies of past SA Reconciliation Barometer reports, follow the links below:


SA Reconciliation Barometer 2015: Fifteenth Round, Briefing Paper 1

National Reconciliation, Race Relations and Social Inclusion

While most South Africans agree that the creation of a united, reconciled nation remains a worthy objective to pursue, the country remains afflicted by its historical divisions. The majority feels that race relations have either stayed the same or deteriorated since the country’s political transition in 1994 and the bulk of respondents have noted income inequality as a major source of social division. Most believe that it is impossible to achieve a reconciled society for as long as those who were disadvantaged under apartheid remain poor within the ‘new South Africa’. Although there is a desire among most South Africans to have more contact with people from racial groups other than their own, they are precluded from doing so by the spatial and economic legacies of apartheid. These also serve to reinforce old prejudices.


SA Reconciliation Barometer: Fourteenth Round, 2014

Reflecting on Reconciliation: Lessons from the past, prospects for the future (over a decade of data)

This year’s South African Reconciliation Barometer reflects on over a decade of SARB data in order to assess the changes in perceptions and experiences of reconciliation since the inception of the survey in 2003.

In sum, the findings of 11 years of the SARB indicate both the light and shadow of our reconciliation process. Many improvements related to reconciliation have been discussed, as well as issues that require further attention if we want to move reconciliation to a deeper place of transformation. This conclusion has attempted to further show how the contradictions which emerge within these findings in fact open the space for a conversation between transformation and reconciliation in South Africa. For example, results point to the future possibility of creating a shared South African identity that is not based in blanket unity, but rather in acknowledging contradictions held within our reconciliation story such as class inequality, white denial, and a sense of marginalisation among coloured South Africans. It is only by creating a collective awareness of the tensions and inequalities which continue to exist that we can come to shape a shared identity based on the principles of justice and transformation rather than assimilation. Finally, as we acknowledge (to transform) the more difficult findings of the Reconciliation Barometer, we should also not forget to continually create and support events and activities which have the power to forge a new narrative of celebration and belonging across race and class for all South Africans.

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Thirteenth Round, 2013

Confronting Exclusion: Time for Radical Reconciliation

The SARB results show that the majority of South Africans do want a unified country, and they have experienced meaningful social change since 1994. However, ordinary citizens see what Villa-Vicencio highlights, that material inequality is the biggest challenge to reconciliation in  South Africa. This year’s SARB focuses on issues of exclusion, and attempts to dig beneath the connection between reconciliation and inequality. It argues that reconciliation does have a key role to play in reducing material inequality, but it needs to be re-articulated in a radical light. The word radical implies depth in the sense of ‘root’, as in going to the root of the issue. Radical also mean revolutionary, or to create something new that is different from what has preceded it. On both counts this understanding of reconciliation is radical. Following Hegel, the mutual recognition of the lived experience of the other is radical in the sense that it is the pre-condition or ‘root’ out of which freedom is possible. In terms of revolutionary, this understanding of reconciliation departs from the ambiguous, soft uses of the term that have preceded it. This term grounds reconciliation in a new direction which places the connection between economic justice and reconciliation at the centre of radical reconciliation.. Read more…

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Twelfth Round, 2012

The results of the 2012 round of the SA Reconciliation Barometer survey were released in Cape Town on 6 December. With a focus on youth opinion on reconciliation, the report – entitled Ticking Time Bomb or Demographic Dividend? – found that while young South Africans appear to be interested in participating in politics, they are sceptical about political parties, distrustful of leadership and are concerned about the extent of corruption in the country. Many are optimistic about their future economic prospects, but in the current economic climate will likely face challenges in accessing education and training and entering the labour market. Read more…

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Eleventh Round, 2011

This report of the SA Reconciliation Barometer survey focuses on social and political events with potential to impact on reconciliation during 2011, including high levels of participation in local government elections, violent protests, and the increasing perception that current levels of economic inequality are the foremost source of division in the country. Read more…

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Tenth Round, 2010

Released in December of 2010, the tenth round of the SA Reconciliation Barometer found notable improvements in evaluations of reconciliation across many of the six key indicators tested by the survey. However, since the first round was conducted in 2003, perceptions related to human security have declined overall, with potential consequences for social relations. Read more

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Ninth Round, 2009

This year’s round of the SARB was conducted in the highly emotive and politically charged run-up to South Africa’s fourth democratic national and provincial elections. The fact that South Africans viewed the division between political parties as one of the most significant social cleavages in the country is therefore a telling reflection on this particular time. Read more

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Eight Round, 2008

In a context of global economic decline, this round of the Barometer found South Africans feeling insecure, unsafe and less confident about the future. Trust in public institutions continued to fall from previous levels, highlighting volatility of particular concern in the lead-up to the April 2009 elections. Read more

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Seventh Round, 2007

Despite persistent divisions along racial lines, this round of the Barometer found interracial socialisation to be on the increase. However, respondents viewed material inequality as the biggest division in South African society, and economic confidence, physical security and trust in government and leadership all declined. Read more

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Sixth Round, 2006

Ten years after the first sitting of the TRC, Barometer findings suggested that white respondents – while still most skeptical about reconciliation – were increasingly optimistic about prospects for a united nation, livelihoods of their families, and the future of their children, converging more closely with the views of black compatriots. Read more

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Fifth Round, 2005

The fifth round of the Barometer found growing acceptance of social integration across South Africans, and high levels of support for integrated neighbourhoods and schools. However, almost one-third of respondents had no contact with other race groups on an average day. Confidence in physical safety and optimism about personal economic circumstances also declined. Read more

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Fourth Round, 2005

Soon after South Africa celebrated ten years of democracy, Barometer respondents registered high levels of approval for service delivery, and increasing confidence in the trustworthiness and impartiality of Parliament. Yet, half of all respondents indicated a willingeness to circumvent the law – without actually breaking it – and one-third, that sometimes justice could be better achieved without adhering to the law. Read more

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Third Round, 2004

The third round of the Barometer showed a slight rise in optimism from the previous round, with South Africans feeling more confident  about their economic, physical and cultural security. Confidence in leadership also increased, although many citizens still felt unable to make leaders listen to their concerns. Read more

SA Reconciliation Barometer: Second Round, 2003

Respondents to this round of the Barometer survey demonstrated an increased commitment to already-high levels confidence in nation-building, in spite of declining levels of contact between races.  Socioeconomic class was identified as the most significant source of division within South African society. Read more

SA Reconciliation Barometer: First Round, 2003

Barometer findings suggested that government commanded significant commitment, support and confidence from the public, and that South Africans were optimistic about achieving national unity that transcended racial barriers.  However, many respondents retained negative perceptions and stereotypes about people of different races. Read more

Exploratory Survey, 2003

Welcomed by some, rejected by others, reconciliation has been a notion few South Africans could ignore. This report, based on a nationally representative survey, examined conceptualisations of the nature and processes of reconciliation. Read more

© Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

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