Contesting citizenship: Civil society struggles over livelihood and educational access in coastal settlements of the Western Cape, South Africa
This thesis examines how citizenship is being contested in post-apartheid South Africa through civil society struggles over livelihood and educational access in coastal settlements of the Western Cape. It contends that civil society activities represent a key site of learning and action towards expanding citizenship for marginalised groups. Citizenship from this perspective is both expressed in and influenced by civil society struggles, while being constrained by external and structural forces such as globalisation and neo-liberal influences. This thesis examines the interconnections between three key pillars of citizenship in this context – access to material or livelihood resources and opportunities, educational access and capability requirements, and civil society contestation. Structural constraints continue to exist at national or policy level to ‘historically disadvantaged’ (‘black’ and ‘coloured’) groups gaining full citizenship. Socio-economic and educational capability requirements are important exclusionary factors in terms of access to livelihood resources and opportunities, including language and literacy requirements operating through bureaucratic or politically mediated processes. The analyses use the example of marine resource access for small-scale, informal economy workers to demonstrate these practices. In access to adult education and training opportunities, gaps and inequities in infrastructure and provision continue to form the major constraint. In both of these strands of access, accountability of policy-makers, political leaders and decisionmakers is a key issue. Civil society activities represent one of the few available avenues for challenging inequities, drawing on local action as well as international networks. Civil society efforts have resulted in some gains regarding access to marine resources and in pushing for recognition of citizenship for small-scale fishers. This thesis argues that it is the contestation and cooperation that has occurred between civil society and government that creates the space in which citizenship has been expanded and contested, rather than civil society activities alone. Ultimately, however, overcoming these challenges is likely to require wider interventions, including a more enabling policy environment and greater access to intermediate skills development.