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Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 49–71 | Cite as

Monitoring Perceptions of Social Progress and Pride of Place in a South African Community

  • Valerie MøllerEmail author
  • Sarah Radloff
Article

Abstract

A social indicators community project was conducted in 2007 to monitor living standards and quality of life in Rhini, a low-income suburb of Grahamstown, Makana Municipality, South Africa. Since 1994, under democratic rule, considerable progress has been made in service delivery to the formerly disadvantaged in South African society in terms of access to housing, infrastructure, and a social safety net to mitigate the high rate of unemployment. A representative cross-sectional household study (n 1020) conducted in 2007 in Rhini found that a positive assessment of the household’s situation and personal life satisfaction did not reflect better living conditions. Lack of income and employment opportunities appeared to dilute gains from higher living standards. The project also inquired into attitudes to place names and a proposed name change for the city under discussion at the time of the survey. It is argued that a place name with which one can identify may be as important as service delivery to enhance community satisfaction and overall quality of life. Dissatisfied residents who had limited access to services and expressed less civic pride were more likely than others to opt for a proposed name change for the city of Grahamstown that would better reflect the country’s new identity and multicultural heritage. It is concluded that a useful pursuit for community quality-of-life studies in countries undergoing social transformation will be to inquire into the complex combination of factors that drive perceptions of material and symbolic progress.

Keywords

Service delivery Living standards Life satisfaction Community quality of life Place names Social progress Civic pride 

Notes

Acknowledgements

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the First International Sociological Association Forum, ‘Sociological Research and Public Debate’, Barcelona, Spain, 5–8 September 2008, Working Group WG06 Social Indicators. Conference participation was made possible by a Rhodes University travel grant. The paper is based on a survey supported by a grant from the South Africa–Netherlands Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD). Fieldwork for the survey was commissioned to Development Research Africa. Two reviewers supplied useful comments on an earlier manuscript. While this sponsorship and assistance is gratefully acknowledged, views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to sponsors or others.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V./The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Social and Economic ResearchRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Statistics DepartmentRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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