To conduct scientific research towards understanding the institutions and practices of democracy, governance and service delivery provision so that appropriate interventions can be made, and practical solutions generated, in overcoming the challenges South Africa faces as a nascent democracy.
Scope and impact of work
As a multidisciplinary research programme undertaking social science research in the thematic areas above, the researchers in DGSD - based on the generation of evidence-based knowledge - propose strategies for intervention that assist policy makers in making informed choices and decisions in response to the South Africa's development challenges.
As a knowledge hub for high-quality research, DGSD is a key national and regional resource for independent strategic research. Work produced and outputs generated are of value to national, provincial and local government, and to the wider academic and policy development community.
The thematic research thrusts of the programme are driven by five units that focus on:
- Democracy and Social Justice
This unit focuses on how democratic governance can best enable and empower all South Africans to freely and effectively pursue the realisation of their own individual and collective potential. Issues of poverty, inequality and national economic development strategies; national identity and social cohesion; and women and gender in a democratic South Africa are examined in this unit.
- Africa and the Global South
This unit focuses on research on regional integration and development; the role of South African corporates in regional economic development; peace and security in Africa; and South Africa, Africa and the newly emerging regional powers of China, India and Brazil. This unit is also tasked with establishing a Centre for African Studies and the Global South at the HSRC.
This unit focuses on the key drivers of violent crime in South Africa; the impact of crime and violence; understanding the scale, causes and impact of corruption; and examines issues of citizenship, participatory democracy and political violence.
- Local Government, Service Delivery and Traditional Leadership
Led by David Hemson , this unit conducts research on local government turn-around strategies for South Africa; service delivery interventions in South and Southern Africa; traditional leadership and governance; rural development, technology transfer and innovation; and housing and human settlements.
This research and policy initiative is exploring how South Africa can become a developmental state. This derives from a recognition by the South African government that in order to overcome its development challenges of reducing poverty, inequality and unemployment, as well as deliver services to the majority of people, a developmental state is needed that would actively and purposefully intervene in the economy. This programme of work therefore attempts to explore the policy orientation and institutional characteristics that should underpin a developmental state in South Africa.