Solidarity in Soweto - The Child Support Grant: substitutes or complements?
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This study looks into solidarity behaviour in urban areas of Johannesburg. More specifically, what is the interaction between solidarity of the welfare state and solidarity behaviour in the community? South Africa is a country with high levels of inequality, poverty and massive unemployment. In response to these attributes, the welfare state introduced an important poverty reduction instrument, the Child Support Grant (CSG), which is now the largest social assistance programme in South Africa. The main theoretical objective of the research is to explore solidarity behaviour of CSG recipients and members of the community Doornkop. Studies in a western context show that the interplay between formal and informal solidarity occurs in two ways: substitution and reinforcement. The substitution hypothesis holds that governmental arranged formal solidarity substitutes informal solidarity in the community. The reinforcement hypothesis holds that formal solidarity reinforce the level of informal solidarity in the community. Previous studies show that the interplay between formal and informal solidarity is ambiguous. Substitution and reinforcement effects occur in different domains, such as solidarity within family and households or communities and society. The same is true in the context of South Africa. A qualitative approach is taken in this research with the use of semi-structured interviews. In the community Doornkop, 20 female recipients (aged 18-55) of the CSG were interviewed about their solidarity behaviour and the solidarity behaviour in the community. The findings of this study show that both substitution and reinforcement effects occur in the community, in which there are differences between the effects on recipients of the grant and other community members. When looking at the solidarity behaviour among the CSG recipients, the results show a reinforcement effect on especially activity in voluntary organisations and community support groups. This is particularly true for households where the grant is an additional income on the household income. When it concerns household that are depending on the grant money, there are only indications for an increase in solidarity behaviour in the household. On the other hand, substitution effects show when looking at solidarity behaviour among others in the community. First, we found a decrease in private remittances from the family of the recipients. Secondly, there seems to be a shift in the solidarity behaviour towards CSG recipients, because receiving the grant money makes these households less needy in the community. In general, it can be said that the CSG has positive effects on the solidarity behaviour of CSG recipients, and causes shifts in solidarity behaviour among others in the community.