oa Alternation - Labour and South African Literature in the 1980s

Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



Marxists have argued that the motivation of apartheid was economic exploitation, with racial oppression playing a significant role in the formation of classes. Given South Africa's history of colonialism and white minority domination, there has been a strong correspondence between racial stratification and class, and race has been quite a reliable index of class. Although much has been made of the white working class, it is tiny in comparison to the black working class (disproportionately so, as a result of apartheid). In addition, the income of the white working class under apartheid bore no comparison to the black working class, for instance white railway workers in the 1970s had wage packages that were better than those of qualified, 'middle class' black teachers. This was besides the other benefits that accrued from racial privileges, such as job reservation, conditions of service, pensions, housing, medical facilities, and so on.

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