Urbanisation, Racial Desegregation and the Changing Character of Inter-Racial Contact

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


Among the defining features of apartheid was the racial segregation of South African society at the national, urban and institutional levels. One of the consequences of racial segregation was that it limited and even prevented social interactions between people of different races, thus serving to create and reinforce mistrust between the races. Racial reconciliation is therefore premised on the idea of interracial contact, especially if it is characterised by mutual respect and tolerance. This chapter presents some of the patterns and trends of interracial contact among South Africans of all races with a view to understanding the extent of such contact and providing insights into its character and probable cause. The results are based on the findings of the South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB) surveys conducted from 2003 to 2013. These findings are assessed on the basis of existing studies of the changing racial composition of the population, the changing geographical distribution of the races and of patterns of racial residential desegregation. Analysis shows that these long-term, structural characteristics of South African society have an important influence on the patterns of interracial contact.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRe‑thinking Reconciliation
Subtitle of host publication Evidence from South Africa
EditorsKate Lefko-Everett, Rajendra Govender, Don Foster
Place of PublicationPretoria
PublisherHSRC Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)978-0-7969-2554-1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Inter-racial contact
  • racial residential desegregation
  • South Africa


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