Social change refers to the change of social stratification, patterns of behaviour, culture, language, attitudes and institutions over time. The imperative of social change is unquestioned in the South African context given a history that produced one of the most unequal societies in the world and a history premised on the notion that people are different and therefore cannot coexist as equal compatriots in the same society. The notion of transformation invokes a future that is the antithesis of the past, replacing colonialism, segregation, exploitation, job reservation, patriarchy, homophobia and so on with democracy, citizenship, the freedom of movement, freedom of association and equality.
While the need for social change is widely accepted, there is much less consensus about the desired direction of change, the mechanisms through which change should come about and the key actors who will shape the future. Champions of transformation are frustrated by social realities that seem broadly to be undesirable but that reproduce themselves over time. Meanwhile significant social changes that do occur, whether desirable or undesirable, emerge often without design, independently of any strategy to bring them about.
This theme houses projects examining the transformation of society and social relations in Gauteng, with a specific focus on segregation and desegregation, gender, faith based spaces, spatial symbolism in street names and graffiti, and the nature of social change itself.