n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Toepassings van sosiale-sisteemteorie by armoedeverligting in Suid-Afrika

Volume 44, Issue 2_3
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


Poverty is not the same as being poor - id est, it is not just being without money. Impoverished people are caught in a trap of hopelessness and meaninglessness because of their inability to serve their own needs and those of the communities within which they exist. Poverty is about survival without hope and vision - a communal state that ultimately produces a vicious cycle of alienation and societal degradation. Where there is poverty there is little social capital because the 'investment bank' of social capital is, firstly, in human development and, secondly, in the coherence and strength of human organisation and social networks. No society can survive in the 21st century without a strong social capital base.
More than half of South Africa's population survives in a state of poverty, and without employment growth there is little hope that this will change in future. Employment growth is usually directly linked to high rates of economic growth, but high rates of economic growth are (without windfall gains) today only possible if the social capital base in a country is supportive to such growth. Therefore, in the long run poverty begets growing poverty.
This paper presents an overview of the contributions of a number of authors in the field of social systems theory towards the issue of human development. It emphasises the need for multiple perspectives on the design of human development programmes. This covers applications to personal development, to values development, and to community development projects.

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