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Clientelism and Redistribution in South Africa: Evidence on perceptions and attitudes from a field survey

Type of the publication: 

In attempting to shed light on the potential limits to redistribution in high-inequality young democracies, clientelistic practices may be at the forefront of research into the matter. Central to the question is whether politicians allocate public goods equitably and programmatically in order to maximise social welfare or whether goods are allocated in an opportunistic manner so as to alter electoral outcomes to favour politicians themselves (Gallego&Wantchekon, 2012:1). This study makes use of a survey conducted in two low-income areas – the townships of Khayelitsha and Delft – in Cape Town, South Africa. The survey yields information into the as yet unexplored perceptions on and attitudes towards the concept in South Africa. The work conducted in collecting the data and administering the survey is itself one of the contributions of the overall study. This paper attempts to illustrate one of the possible areas of research that can be furthered with the use of the data that has been collected. We find evidence of a relationship between attitudes towards clientelism (and clientelistic practices) and redistributive preferences. We suggest promising avenues for further investigation into the exact nature of this relationship.

Image: ©IRD - Laure Andre