South African Hopes and Fears Twenty Years into Democracy: A Replication of Hadley Cantril’s Pattern of Human Concerns
- 314 Downloads
Fifty years have elapsed since Cantril (1965) published his work on The Pattern of Human Concerns. His line of inquiry has stood the test of time. In late 2012, the nationally representative South African Social Attitudes Survey replicated Cantril’s 1960s questions and methodology to elicit South Africans’ hopes and aspirations and worries and fears for self and country and their ratings of where self and country stood—past, present and will stand in future. Although Cantril’s ‘ladder-of life’ scale is still regularly used as a measure of subjective well-being, to our knowledge his full line of preliminary questioning has not been fielded again to date. Our study found that South African aspirations for self were mainly material ones for a decent standard of living and the means to achieve this goal. Hopes for the nation concentrated on economic and political progress to consolidate South Africa’s democracy. A large number of personal and national hopes were mirrored in fears that these aspirations might not be met. Cantril’s method also allowed us to review the main concerns and ratings across the diverse groups of citizens that make up the ‘rainbow nation’. There was a substantial degree of consensus on top hopes and fears but levels of standing on the Cantril ladder of life were still graded according to apartheidera inequalities with black South Africans scoring lower than other race groups. Nonetheless, the majority of South Africans rated their present life better than 5 years ago and projected life to get better in future. Such optimism may place considerable pressure on the state to deliver on personal and societal hopes as the country enters its third decade of democracy.
KeywordsCantril ladder of life Human concerns Hopes and fears Perceptions of progress South Africa
The idea of replicating Cantril’s line of questioning was sparked by Richard Easterlin. In the book to mark his winning the prestigious IZA Prize in Labour Economics in 2009, Easterlin (2010, p. 254) notes that: “Analysts sometimes try to infer time series change by comparing the responses to “ladder-of-life” questions of the type asked in the recent Gallup World Poll to Cantril’s (1965) results. To assume the recent responses are comparable to Cantril’s is questionable. Before presenting respondents with the ladder-of-life question, Cantril’s interviewers conducted a lengthy in-depth interview probing the respondents’ concerns about the best and worst of all possible worlds (Chapter 1 and Cantril 1965, pp. 22–24). The recent ladder-of-life questions have no counterpart to this lengthy preamble.” This work is based on research supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa’s grant UID 77926 for the South Africa-Algeria research cooperation programme on ‘Quality of Life in South African and Algeria: A multi-method approach’. We are grateful to co-researchers at the HSRC for including the Cantril questions in the 2012 SASAS; and to research partners at the University of Oran, Algeria, and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, for their collegial support. Views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the NRF or others.
- Bloch, G. (2009). The Toxic Mix: What’s wrong with South Africa’s schools and how to fix it. Cape Town: Tafelberg.Google Scholar
- Cantril, H. (1965). The pattern of human concerns. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
- Easterlin, R. A. (2010). Happiness, growth and the life cycle. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Friedman, S., & Atkinson, D. (Eds.). (1994). The small miracle: South Africa’s negotiated settlement, South African Review 7. Johannesburg: Ravan Press.Google Scholar
- Gallup World Poll. (2013). Understanding how Gallup uses the Cantril Scale. http://www.gallup.com/poll/122453/understanding-gallup-uses-cantril-scale.aspx. Accessed 13 April 2010.
- Glatzer, W. (2014). Monitoring and analyzing quality of life—An Introduction. In W. Glatzer, L. Camfield, & V. R. Møller (Eds.), Global handbook of quality of life: Explorations of the wellbeing of nations and continents. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Glatzer, W., & Gulyas, J. (2014b). Cantril’s ladder. In A. C. Michalos (Ed.), Encyclopedia of quality of life and well-being research (p. 511). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Gulyas, J. (2014). Hopes and fears—Future views of quality of life. In W. Glatzer, L. Camfield, V. Møller, & M. Rojas (Eds.), Global handbook of quality of life: Explorations of the wellbeing of nations and continents, Chapter 42. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Hanf, Th, & Bauerle, P. (2011). Factors determining democratic attitudes. In Th Hanf (Ed.), The political function of education in deeply divided societies. Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
- Johnson, R. W., & Schlemmer, L. (Eds.). (1996). Launching democracy in South Africa. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Lund, T. (2014). Poor education ‘is behind joblessness’, no dividend from drop in SA poverty rate. Business Day, Johannesburg, 10 April 2014.Google Scholar
- Ministry in the Office of the Presidency: Reconstruction and Development Programme. (1995). Key indicators of poverty in South Africa. Pretoria: Government Printer.Google Scholar
- Møller, V. (2014). Happiness, national pride and the 2010 World Cup. In G. Sullivan (Ed.), Emotions of collective pride and group identity: New directions in theory and practice. Milton Park: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Møller, V., & Roberts, B. (2014b). South African hopes and fears twenty years into democracy: A replication of Hadley Cantril’s pattern of human concerns. Research Report Series No. 17, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Rhodes University, Grahamstown.Google Scholar
- Paton, A. (1948). Cry the beloved country: A story of comfort in desolation. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
- Pillay, U., Roberts, B., & Rule, S. (Eds.). (2006). South African social attitudes: Changing times, diverse voices. Cape Town: HSRC Press.Google Scholar
- Roberts, B. (2006). The happy transition? Attitudes to poverty and inequality after a decade of democracy. In E. Pillay, B. Roberts, & S. Rule (Eds.), South African social attitudes: Changing times, diverse voices (pp. 101–130). Cape Town: HSRC Press.Google Scholar
- Roberts, B. (2010). Fear factor: Perceptions of safety in South Africa. In B. Roberts, M. wa Kivulu, & Y. D. Davids (Eds.), South African social attitudes 2 nd report: Reflections on the age of hope (pp. 250–275). Cape Town: HSRC Press.Google Scholar
- Roberts, B. J., et al. (2012). State of affliction: Fear of crime and quality of life in South Africa. In: D. Webb (Ed.), Subjective well-being and security, Social Indicators Research Book Series Vol. 46 (pp. 149–175). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Roberts, B., wa Kivulu, M., & Davids, Y. D. (Eds.). (2010). South African social attitudes 2 nd Report: Reflections on the age of hope. Cape Town: HSRC Press.Google Scholar
- Simbayi, L. C., Shisana, O., Rehle, T., Onoya, D., Jooste, S., Zungu, N., et al. (2014). South African National HIV prevalence, incidence and behaviour survey, 2012. Pretoria: HSRC.Google Scholar
- South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR). (2013). South African Survey 2013. Johannesburg.Google Scholar
- Sparks, A. (2003). Beyond the miracle: Inside the new South Africa. Johannesburg/Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers.Google Scholar
- Statistics South Africa (StatsSA). (2012). General Household Survey 2011, Statistical Release P 0318, 3 May 2012.Google Scholar
- Statistics South Africa (StatsSA). (2014). Poverty trends in South Africa: Winning the war on poverty. http://beta2.statssa.gov.za/?p=2591. Accessed 25 April 2014.
- Stiglitz, J. E., Sen, A., & Fitoussi, J.-P. (2009). Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. Paris. www.stiglitz-sen-fitoussi.fr.