Culture, Identity and Social Cohesion

Culture, Identity and Social Cohesion is a thematic area that is framed in terms of its intersectionality with respect to gender, race, class and sexuality.

There is a growing understanding that there is an urgent need to revitalize a humanities-driven research theme, to build our understanding of closed identities in relation to understanding our past, our heritage and our future in a transforming and developing state.

The movement is towards a knowledge-based economy, investment in development and greater emphasis on building human capital. This will be realized by promoting the value in the human meaning of public policy in evidence-based research.­

The following documents are aimed at contributing to the growing policy discourse on culture, identity and social cohesion.

Related publications

The Migration Issue Briefs are a resource for practitioners. They summarise state of the art research and are intended to inform discussions and debates surrounding human mobility in Southern Africa. This series extends from 2010-2014 and is published by the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CORMSA).

Issue 4 of the newsletter focuses on the issue of violent crime in South Africa. The newsletter aims to stimulate debate around evidence-based policy-making. To contribute to future editions plesae send your submissions to [email protected]­.

Also read the working paper based on data from interviews with a number of mostly Western Cape based companies and employees with the objective of understanding the barriers to the achievement of employment equity for African people.­
Issue Three of the PAN newsletter focuses on the interface between child-centred evidence and related policy. It features a range of resources that illustrate how child-focused data and research evidence can contribute to and inform better outcomes for children when formulating social policy.
Summarises some of the literature and research on social inclusion and considers the relevance of the concept and its application to family support services. Provides definitions of social inclusion and exclusion.­
Executive summary of a report on a wide range of migration's impacts on development, including poverty reduction in developing countries.
Peer reviewed positioning paper which reviews the literature on social inclusion and housing as the foundation for an empirical research project on the best forms of policy intervention.
One in a series of migration policy briefs summarising research to inform debates around­ human mobility in Southern Africa.
Aims to understand what new evidence can reveal about some important public policy questions that involve issues around identity.
Sets out the key issues to consider when designing and managing evaluations, and the presentation and interpretation of evaluation results. Describes why thinking about evaluation before and during the policy design phase can help to improve the quality of evaluation results without needing to hinder the policy proce­ss.
Call for the development of a course which will improve  organizational capacity to influence public policies in developing countries - deadline 23 January 2011
A case book aimed at ensuring­ that managers are using evidence to make decisions and development stakeholders are able to keep track of progress.
Identifies seven steps to developing community cohesion, illustrating with in-depth cases studies and practical examples.
Reviews international good practice for using data in policymaking and develops a conceptual framework for characterising and classifying the different elements of a data strategy for public sector orga­nisations.
A free, online, interactive tool, which maps and graphs more than 175 indicators from the World Bank’s development database.
In the final issue of the PAN newsletter for 2011 ­we look at how the evaluation of government programmes can be invaluable in improving performance and service delivery.
A presentation outlining approaches to achieving research-based­ policies.

This is the first edition of the Policy > Action Network newsletter, From Evidence to Action, published with support from the Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development (PSPPD), a partnership between the Presidency and the Eu­ropean Union.­

A conceptual framework to be used in the production of case studies which identify factors that help or hinder rigorous impact evaluations from influencing policy.
A set of recommendations sutmitted to the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on xenophobic violence, with a 10-point action plan.­
A guiding framework for policymakers, researchers and practitioners interested in developing practical tools for evidence-based policymaking, impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation in ­the area of social inclusion.
The main purpose of this handbook is to facilitate the investment process of a public research institute in developing a system (from the simplest to the most sophisticated) of monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and knowledge management (KM) of the impact of research on public policy.
For use by South African and Southern African Development Community (SADC)-wide civil society organisations, as well as independent and community media.­
Aims to provide analytical tools and resources to assist analysts and managers with policy development or service-planning projects.
Eight case studies of community protest and xenophobic violence in South Africa with recommendations under the categories of social justice activism, reforming the state, and socio-economic interventions.­
Considers questions regarding medicinal plants with a view to exploring opportunities for productive inclusion of traditional communities. Highlights the importance of bottom-up approaches to policy development and inclues a one-page summary.

Call for proposals to conduct a series of case studies to identify factors that contribute to or impede evidence from rigorous impact evaluations to influence policy(deadline is 28 February 2011).
­This database provides policymakers and practitioners with easy access to systematic reviews that examine evidence on the effects of social and economic development interventions in low- and middle-income countries. It draws together systematic reviews from a range of sources and covers all sectors.
Details the outcomes of ­15 dialogues the Nelson Mandela Foundation convened in various communities across South Africa affect­ed by xenophobic violence in 2008.­
NDP 2030

The National Development Plan (NDP) aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. According to the plan, South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society. The popular version in all official languages and two-page illustrated versions are also available.


The Presidency has published the National Evaluation Draft Policy Framework for public comment. Comments can be emailed to Dr Ian Goldman at [email protected] by 30 September 2011. For enquiries call Dr Ian Goldman at (012) 308 1918. ­­
Summarises government's plan for proactively curbing and averting threats of xenophobic violence against foreign nationals.
Provides data and analysis for assessing the social health of the nation. In providing a framework for analyzing the vitality of the social fabric, three key terms are employed - social cohesion, social capital and social justice.
Presidency State of the Nation home page with additional information and links.­

The 20 Year Review synthesis report published in 2014 was informed by several thematic areas. These are regarded as focal areas to tell the story of South Africa’s progress since democracy. The 21 thematic background papers were written by officials in the Presidency and other government departments using research and other evidence to inform progress, sector developments and challenges still remaining. The body of work that went into developing these papers was extensive with the goal of understanding where we came from in order to inform South Africa’s future trajectory.  Each of the thematic papers was based on background papers which are available at the link above.

This report was a response to the outbreak of xenophobic violence in South Africa in May 2008. It is based on a roundtable hosted in June 2008 in Pretoria that was attended by around 50 key stakeholders from government, civil society and from affected communities. It was the result of a partnership between the Democracy and Governance (D&G) research programme of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the British High Commission of South Africa. The roundtable and this report build on a rapid field study carried out by D&G in the immediate aftermath of the violence that left more than 60 people dead and tens of thousands displaced. The study was entitled Citizenship, Violence and Xenophobia in South Africa: Perceptions from South African Communities , and was handed to Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya on June 05 2008. Importantly this report presents consensual principles and what the research needs are to address this issue.  


The aim of this report is to take up the National Planning Commission’s offer to engage with the National Development Plan Vision 2030. It ams to provide a constructively critical assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the policy proposals of the National Development Plan (NDP) and of the underlying diagnostic studies on which it is based.

This report presents the contemporary global context and charts a path for policymakers and citizens to navigate the increasing interconnec tedness of the world and to face the growing global challenges. It describes how the dynamics of power, voice and wealth in the world are changing and identifies new policies and institutions necessary to address these 21st century realities and promote human development with greater equity, sustainability and social integration. Identifies reforms necessary at both global and national level with an emphasis on building social cohesion, the need for state commitment to education, health and social protection, and openness to trade integration emerge as means of navigating towards sustainable and equitable human development.

Youth violence: Sources and solutions in South Africa

 Reviews the evidence for risk and protective factors that influence the likelihood of young people acting aggressively. Views the problem from a multitude of perspectives, including the current situation in which South African youth are growing up, perspectives from developmental psychology, the influences of race, class and gender, and of the media. The book then reviews the evidence for effective interventions in the contexts of young people’s lives – their homes, their schools, their leisure activities, their interactions with gangs, in the criminal justice system, in cities and neighborhoods, and with sexual offenders.Suggestions are made for keeping an evidence-based perspective while adapting interventions for developing world contexts, such as South Africa.

Outlines the political economy of violence against outsiders and immediate triggers and factors that helped translate xenophobic attitudes into the violent attacks of May­ 2008.
Assesses the progress made by South African cities over the last decade in relation to key development outcomes and reviews strategic problems and opportunities relating to planning and management­
Reviews the changing patterns of science, and scientific collaboration, in order to provide a basis for understanding such ongoing changes. Aims to identify the opportunities and benefits of international collaboration, to consider how they can best be realised, and to initiate a debate on how international scientific collaboration can be harnessed to tackle global problems more effectively.

Analyses the conditions that allowed xenophobic violence to erupt in South Africa in 2008, focusing on the role played by civil society.

Calls for policies on innovation to recognise cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary aspects of creativity, including elements of 'culture-based creativity', 'economic' and 'technological innovation.'
A selection of papers including topics such as language pluralism, expression of identity and economic inequalities.­
Papers and publications on residential land insecurity as a key factor in the processes of social marginalisation.
With examples from the economics, democracy, crime, corruption, and health arenas, concluding with policy implications.
Register to download this report which examines the concept of social cohesion in policy debates and assesses its role in social development.
Essays from organisations using different methodologies and approaches to generate evidence and influence policy and practice in a number of service areas including criminal justice, childrens' services and poverty reduction.
Examines the effects of a range of crosscutting global forces on local forms of identity, coherence and cohesion.
Outlines the five stages of the peacemaking process found among Ubuntu societies, including: acknowledgement of guilt, showing remorse and repenting, asking for and giving forgiveness, and paying compensation or reparation as a prelude to reconciliation.
Commentary from the South African Civil Society Information Service (Sacsis) that the Zuma administration is attempting to insulate public policy choices from contestation in society, and as a consequence failing to build broader­ policy consensus.­
Assembled collaboratively over the past year by several South African civil society organisations (CSOs), this report scrutinises the country’s track record in fighting corruption, managing diversity, addressing xenophobia and racism, managing elections, consolidating democracy and upholding the rule of law, as well as confronting social exclusion and effective service delivery. ­­
Proposes an approach by which central and local government can encourage local responses to social challenges.
The International Journal of Transitional Justice invites submissions for its 2011 special issue, with a 1 April 2011 deadline.­
Citizen participation in policymaking and service design has been debated or attempted, but too infrequently realised. Considers current reform initiatives in the Australian Public Service (APS) and examines the implications of citizen-centric ideals for the processes and structures of government agencies.­
Views on cooperatives as instruments that provide a stake in major economies for communities and create incentives for social cohesion.­
Examines the global state of adolescents, outlines the challenges they face in health, education, protection and participation, and argues that investing in them now is our best hope of breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and inequity and laying the foundation for a more peaceful, tolerant and equitable world.
Looks at issues around promoting national unity, including the question of racial identities and the nature and feasibility of social cohesion.­
Reports on a rapid response study to investigate the causes underlying the outbreak of 2008 ­xenophobic violence in South Africa.
Traces factors impacting on social cohesion in South Africa, giving a historical ­background as well as challenges facing the country since the first democratic elections.
An initiative by the South African Institute of Race Relations which aims to track development trends in South Africa, and will be released on a quarterly basis. ­
A report intended as an initial high-level paper to stimulate discussion amongst New Zealand policy advisors and policy makers.­
This analysis provides new understandings of current concepts of 'globalisation', 'use-oriented' research, 'knowledge society and economy', and 'national system of innovation'.
A study intended to feed policy-oriented recommendations back to civil society regarding both xenophobia and the lessons needing to be learned about strengthening civil society.
Aims to identify the main challenges confronting the country and examine their underlying causes. Serves to advance the discussion about the major issues confronting South Africa.
This report introduces a unique and unprecedented series of data on the state of capacity in Africa. It also examines key issues and challenges confronting in-country and cross-border capacity development.
The third in a series which discusses what needs to be done further in reaching the MDGs,  an abridged version of a much more comprehensive joint Economic Commission for Africa, African Union Commission, and African Development Bank report.

This seminar addressed two key features of the discourse around restitution for past injustices, that of locating selves in these conversations about the past and interrogating the aim of restitution – in the light of current inequalities. Drawing on her recently published book, Another Country: Everyday social restitution, Prof Swartz offered the concept of ‘social restitution’ - understood as the actions and attitudes that everyday people can undertake in dialogue with each other to ‘make things good again’, and describes new language beyond the labels of victims and perpetrators to talk about our role in the past including beneficiary, ostrich and resister. She describes how restoring personhood is a key aim to achieve social cohesion and to deal with the shame of an unaddressed past, including blame-shifting. 

The seminar is aimed at providing an understanding of South African protests within a global and international comparative context.This seminar may be attended via the HSRC video conferences in Pretoria, Cape Town , Port Elizabeth and KwaZulu-Natal. The speakers will be located in Pretoria.You may also join via Vidyo on your computer or mobile device via this link:

The value of the  seminar is that it brings together researchers, policymakers and knowledge producers to engage around current practice. Such engagements will potentially  inform policy strategies and mechanisms that may facilitate the promotion of the social sciences and humanities and innovation for inclusive development at national and organisational levels.

For related publications go the HSRC website here.

Follow us on twitter @policyprocesses @HSRCacza @SocialChangeSA #CommunityProtests.


This seminar will take place on 30 June 2016 and can be attended at the HSRC offices in Pretoria, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban. You may also join via Vidyo on your computer or mobile device via the link: and you can register now. Tweet questions and comments to @policyprocesses and @HSRCacza on the day.

The workshop is intended to reflect on community protests. Although these protests have been often associated with service delivery, research by Alexander et al. (2010) shows that these protests are not just about service delivery, but amounted to a rebellion of the poor. In order to gain further understanding of these protests and their causes, Prof P Alexander established a new research project, building on insights gained from an earlier study that appeared in the book, Class in Soweto (2013), which has recently been awarded the NIHSS prize for best edited book.

#CommunityProtests #ServiceDelivery. Follow @policyprocesses @HSRCacza on Twitter.


Xenophobic violence is increasingly becoming a longstanding feature in post-Apartheid South Africa and efforts to explain its underlying and immediate causes have intensified since the unprecedented wave of violence in May 2008. Unfortunately, a critical review of existing explanations reveals that, while valuable in identifying the socio-economic and political context within which violence occurs, they fall short as scientific explanations for the occurrence of the violence.Jean Pierre Misago from the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS) presented at the HSRC on 30 June 2015 and his presentation is attached.

This Department of Science and Technology Government Cluster Policy Workshop (GCPW) addressed the critical issues of spatial inequalities in South Africa, public perceptions towards inequalities and preferences for redistribution, as well as the relationship between the two. These issues are situated within the broader debates about inequalities as determinants of various social problems including poor health outcomes, social unrest and crime. The GCPW was informed by a research project which is being undertaken collaboratively between researchers at the University of Oxford and the HSRC. By investigating whether citizens' attitudes to inequality in South Africa are associated with their experience of inequality at the local level, the study attempts to provide new insights into inequality in South Africa to support evidence-based policy making. The project was motivated by three pressing needs:

  • first, the need to better understand the unequal spatial configuration of poverty and deprivation at small area level as a measure of people's lived experience of inequality;
  • second, the need to better understand public attitudes towards inequality and towards policy options for redress; and,
  • third, the need to explore whether people's attitudes are influenced by their lived experience of inequality

This record has been updated with additional presentations. In addition to further presentations are available on request as they are too large to load onto the website: The relationship between spatial inequality and attitudes to inequality in South Africa (David McLennan and Michael Noble) and Inclusion, access and the urban advantage (Philip Harrison). (email [email protected])

Conference presentations can now be downloaded. Also look at the summing-­up, Cross cutting golden threads.

Presentation from a seminar which reviewed evidence-based policy-making and the potential role of evaluation as a key, and a systematic, source of evidence. Presented by Dr Ian Goldman, Deputy Director General, Evaluation and Research, DPME,­ The Presidency.­

Workshop report where participants were enabled to apply a knowledge synthesis ­method including: choosing a relevant policy for study, analysing it, performing a literature review (in a way that differs from literature reviews on simple interventions) and organising deliberative processes.
Essays based on a conference which aimed to ­encourage and facilitate debate about the ethical basis for policy making.
Papers from conference aiming to deepen understanding of the complex and pertinent relationship between social cohesion and development.
Examines the concept of social justice in Africa and the possible role to be played by the youth, especially in the age of globalis­ation.­
C­aptures key aspects of a roundtable discussion and makes recommendations that have relevance for research, policy and practice.
A booklet explaining what 'meaningful engagement' is, when it should take place and the role of community leaders.
Transcript of a discussion focused on ­immigrants' experiences of connectedness, social justice, sense of belonging and worth.

This documentary, directed by Miki Redelinghuis, chronicles the battle for the land of Makhasaneni – a by-now familiar struggle. In 2011, residents discovered geologists prospecting on their land. Soon afterwards, crops began dying. The soil and water became too contaminated to continue farming. The land, they learned, had been sold to mining giant Jindal Africa by their chief, who got the go-ahead from the Ingonyama Trust. Ingonyama, set up at the tail end of apartheid, holds nearly three million hectares of traditional land in KwaZulu-Natal, with King Goodwill Zwelithini as the sole trustee (Daily Maverick). To arrange screenings go to:

A community of over 1,000 practitioners managing for development results (MfDR) from 37 different African countries and regions across the world.
A networking, advocacy and research initiative, referring not only to archives and libraries, but also to memory, cultural practice and places that tell the stories of the past. It aims to facilitate dialogue and information sharing between professionals, academics and government employees in the heritage and archive sector.
If you have some ideas on building a better South Africa, please register for and participate in the National Planning Commission (NPC)­ Jam (an online brainstorming event from noon on 28 September until noon on 1 October). Additional information can also be found here. ­
­A pan-African non-governmental organisation aiming to enhance the development of national cultural policies in the region and their integration in human development strategies through advocacy and promoting information exchange, research, capacity building and cooperation at the regional and international level.
CIPPEC, a leading think tank in Argentina will award 12 scholarships to participate in the third edition of this online training programme developed jointly with Global Development Network (GDN)­ which will start by the end of August 2011.­
A project aimed at preventing xenophobic violence and protecting refugee rights, with related documents including case studies and commentary.­
Follow events at this open meeting in Dakar, Senegal from 6-11 February.
Download the second issue of the Policy > Action Network newsletter and email [email protected] if you would like to make comments or submissions for the next issue.
A new Facebook forum for a national citizens' dialogue, currently working against xenophobia and planning for ­a National Indaba in September 2010.
A Club of Madrid global initiative that supports democratic development through leadership for dialogue, diversity and social cohesion. Read about their Call to action and their Ten Commitments outlining policy areas essential for promoting social inclusion. ­
This internship offers outstanding graduate-level students the opportunity to acquire direct exposure to IPC-IG’s work as a global forum for policy dialogue and South-South learning on development innovations.

Consolidation of the State of the Nation and State of the Province addresses prepared by André Viviers, Senior Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF South Africa.

In this issue of From Evidence to Action, we look at the arts and culture sector in South Africa, and the critical role it can play in the development of the country, from economic to skills development, tourism to job creation. In our feature article, we find out about the Southern African Theatre Initiative (SATI) series of provincial indabas and why this consultative process was so important. Continuing this focus on consultation, we also present several toolkits for improving public participation in our Tools section. We examine the crucial role networks can play for development and training in the arts and culture sector in our case study on the National Community Theatre for Education and Development (NACTED) and our Spotlight on the Arterial Network, which seeks to promote and develop the arts in Africa. Finally, our Resources section is packed with information about what is going on currently in policy and legislation, recent reports and relevant links.

In this first issue of From Evidence to Action for 2012, we look at networks and, specifically, the role they play in changing policy. Our feature article, Getting the most out of policy networks, examines what a network actually is and what makes them effective. Through the example of the Regional Network on Equity in Health in Southern Africa, EQUINET, our case study further explores how to build networks and how they can be used to influence policy. We also find out more about the Policy Action Network, how to manage a Community of Practice. 

Explores the latest thinking on social exclusion within development studies and the more historical debates  concerning the ways in which processes of 'adverse ­incorporation', closure' and 'marginalisation' work to impoverish regions, sectors and people.­

Government policy & legislation

NDP 2030

The National Development Plan (NDP) aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. According to the plan, South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society. The popular version in all official languages and two-page illustrated versions are also available.


The Presidency has published the National Evaluation Draft Policy Framework for public comment. Comments can be emailed to Dr Ian Goldman at [email protected] by 30 September 2011. For enquiries call Dr Ian Goldman at (012) 308 1918. ­­
Summarises government's plan for proactively curbing and averting threats of xenophobic violence against foreign nationals.
Provides data and analysis for assessing the social health of the nation. In providing a framework for analyzing the vitality of the social fabric, three key terms are employed - social cohesion, social capital and social justice.
Presidency State of the Nation home page with additional information and links.­