Lone mothers in South Africa - the role of social security in respecting and protecting dignity (2014)

This research explored the meaning of dignity in lone mothers’ lives and the extent to which existing or potential social security provision protects or erodes their dignity.  The primary objectives for the research were to explore how lone mothers interpret dignity in the context of their daily lives; how their lived experience of poverty and inequality impact on their dignity; the extent to which they regard social grants as respecting and protecting their dignity; and how the experience of claiming social assistance intersects with their dignity. Moving beyond the experience of lone mothers, the project explored with policy makers the extent to which they take into account people’s dignity in the process of social security design and implementation.

The final objective is to address popular concerns about the role of social security in alleviating poverty in terms of whether it jeopardises traditional forms of social solidarity. The project used a mixed methods approach. The qualitative work comprised in-depth interviews and focus groups with lone mothers and elite interviews with policy makers. The quantitative work included the design and analysis of a dedicated module in the South African Social Attitudes Survey 2012.

DSPI Principal Investigator: Professor Michael Noble
Funded by: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Completed: 2014