Articles on Inequality

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To understand inequality in countries like South Africa, it is important to have a good grasp of factors influencing the allocation of skills and knowledge. Shutterstock

How unequal access to knowledge is affecting South African society

In a country as unequal as South Africa, the people who have access to higher education have the power to shape the society, including its elites and middle class.
A statue of colonialist and mining boss Cecil Rhodes is removed from the University of Cape Town. How can we best measure how higher education is being transformed? Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Here’s how to measure – and deepen – change in South Africa’s universities

Universities need to change to become more equitable learning spaces. But what's the best way to measure their transformation, identify gaps and emphasise successes?
It is great news that we have moved well beyond the single story of the starving African but we do not want to fall into a binary trap and adopt another unfortunate stereotype in its place. www.shutterstock.com

Stereotyping Africa: from impoverishment to ‘Africa Rising’

Depictions of Africa used to be the relentless negative image of suffering and impoverished victims. but now there is a new narrative, ‘Africa Rising’.
A train passes through the Kibera slum of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Representations of Africa tend to focus on these kinds of depictions. Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Ordinary people’s stories can change the world’s views about Africa

For decades, media representations of African poverty have been of disease, disaster, conflict, and poverty and have coloured how the rest of the world views Africa.
Supporters of the Congress of South African Trade Unions march in the streets of Johannesburg. Economic freedom has eluded the majority of South Africans. Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

South Africa: why economic freedom is proving to be the ANC’s undoing

Economic transformation of unequal societies in a democratising context is difficult. This requires a creative mix of policy options underpinned by a commitment to social justice.
Workers in a bank watch as Occupy Wall Street protesters march in New York as part of the populist movement protesting economic inequality. Reuters/Joshua Lott

Why inequality matters – for the rich and the poor

The Marikana tragedy has indicated the violent nature of the struggles over resources and income shares. Inequality must be fought because it perpetuates social injustice.
Women wait in line to fill buckets from a communal clean tap in Masiphumelele, Cape Town, South Africa. The country has extremely high levels of inequality. Nic Bothma/Reuters

Why inequality will not be fixed with Pikettian posturing and distorted data

Thomas Piketty's visit reminds us of the need to reconsider South African inequality-fibbery. His inequality critique is vital, but only if it can withstand the neoliberal embrace.
Thomas Piketty argues that education is a big equaliser in a highly unequal society like South Africa. But it must be good quality education. Reuters/Rogan Ward

FactCheck: is South Africa the most unequal society in the world?

Twenty years ago, Brazil and South Africa were in a similar position when it comes to inequality. Brazil has made significant progress in addressing this, but South Africa hasn't.
A view of Alexandra township, a slum overlooking the Sandton skyscrapers in Johannesburg. Addressing inequality has been a major challenge for South Africa. Reuters/Juda Ngwenya

Piketty’s contribution to unpacking inequality: timely and relevant

Will Thomas Piketty's visit to South Africa trigger the rewriting of the country's recent economic history? His analysis and ideas on how to address inequality are hard to ignore.

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