Social Indicators Research

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 257–281



DOI: 10.1007/s11205-006-9010-5

Cite this article as:
Gibson*, J. Soc Indic Res (2007) 81: 257. doi:10.1007/s11205-006-9010-5


Countries throughout the world are trying to move toward a more democratic future through truth and reconciliation processes, under the assumption that truth causes reconciliation and that reconciliation contributes to democratization. But are “truth” and “reconciliation” concepts that can be measured rigorously and reliability? I present evidence in this article that each can be measured as an attribute of individuals, based on a large survey conducted in South Africa. My findings indicate that truth does indeed contribute to reconciliation. But because reconciliation is quite capable of changing (and likely to change) over time, efforts must be made to track levels of reconciliation as an important social indicator. Many countries in transition would profit greatly from implementing a Reconciliation Barometer to measure movement toward or away from the consolidation of democratic reform.


truth commissionstransitional justicetoleranceSouth African politics

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Fellow, Centre for Comparative and International PoliticsStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa