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Reviewed by:
  • Living Together, Living Apart? Social Cohesion in a Future South Africa ed. by Ballantine Christopher et al.
  • Augustine Adu Frimpong
Ballantine Christopher, Michael Chapman, Kira Erwin, and Gerhard Mare, eds. 2017. Living Together, Living Apart? Social Cohesion in a Future South Africa. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: University of KwaZulu–Natal Press. 197pp. $24.50.

Living Together, Living Apart? Social Cohesion in a Future South Africa is coedited by University of KwaZulu–Natal professors emeriti Christopher Ballantine, Michael Chapman, and Gerhard Mare, with Kira Erwin, a researcher at the Urban Futures Center of the Durban University of Technology. The book consists of essays prompted by South Africans’ yearning for social cohesion.

As the coeditors state in their introduction (pp. 1–6), social cohesion in postapartheid South Africa is a buzzword that became much more popular after South African “President Jacob Zuma reduced social cohesion to a catalogue of heritage events,” at a seminar in Kliptown on 5–6 July 2012. Although the phrase social cohesion is used in the policies of various governments throughout the world, the coauthors indicate that in their book, they “made a strategic choice not to do this” (p. 1). However, they agree that race, as a social construct, “continues to permeate and provide fuel for past and present divisions [and] remains central to many popular and political discussions about what it means to live together” (p. 2). [End Page 100]

The coeditors indicate that race has continued to have “both positive and negative consequences: alongside valuable attempts to expose and eradicate racial discrimination, for example, we have the perpetuation and solidification of race-thinking and classification” (p. 2). “At Ease with Being ‘Citizen’ and ‘Human Being,’” an essay by Njabulo S. Ndebele, chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, begins the book (chapter 1). It says history used to demand that he should be black, but now should demand that he “should be both more simply complexly a human being” (p. 3).

The book has seventeen other chapters, which address diverse thematic topics. Chapter two, coauthored by Himla Soodyall, an associate professor in the Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research Unit at the University of Witwatersrand, and Faye Reagon, a doctoral candidate in the Regional Center for Development Studies at Chiang Mai University, addresses “Human Variation: What Can We Learn from Genetics?” Chapters three and four, on limitations in social cohesion, are by David Spurrent, a philosophy professor at the University of KwaZulu–Natal (UKZN), and Kira Erwin, a researcher at Durban University of Technology. Chapter five, on how poverty may invoke ameliorative interventions, is by professor emeritus Gerhard Mare. The importance of physical barriers for crime-deterrence walls is discussed in chapter six, “Where Walls Don’t Divide: Dreaming a Suburban Life,” by Monique Marks, a research professor at Durban University. Efforts to “rebound” rural residents by legislation is discussed in chapter seven, “Bound by Tradition: Chieftaincy in a ‘New’ South Africa,” by Thuto Thipe, a University of Cape Town Faculty of Law research associate and Yale University doctoral candidate in history. The plight of South Africans of Indian descent and the value of critical citizenry are discussed in chapters eight and nine by Kathryn Pillay, a sociology lecturer at UKZN, and Michael Chapman, a UKZN professor emeritus, respectively. Linguistic insights, the reconfiguration of belonging, and exploration of the value of change with respect to vital icons are discussed in chapters ten, eleven, and twelve, respectively, by Rajend Mesthrie, a University of Cape Town linguistics professor, Christopher Ballantine, a UKZN music professor emeritus, and Brenda Schmahmann, a University of Johannesburg art and design professor. Chapters thirteen through fifteen are comparative studies of social cohesion, a reimagined educational system, and a case study of gender harassment, all contributed by Ahmed Bawa, a Universities of South Africa physicist and head, Michael Gardiner, an education and urban cultures researcher, Jackie Dugal, a University of Witwatersrand Gender Equity Office director, and Bonita Meyersfeld, director of the University of Witwatersrand Center of Applied Legal Studies. Finally, chapters sixteen through eighteen deal with the hidden curriculum of South African sports, sources of domestic cohesion, and a biographical anecdote about death by Leigh-Ann Naidoo, a University of Witwatersrand School of Education...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1978
Print ISSN
0001-9887
Pages
pp. 100-102
Launched on MUSE
2017-11-11
Open Access
No
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