Social Cohesion and Language Policy in South Africa

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Phakisho MOKHAHLANE, North West University, South Africa
Social cohesion may be conceptualised as the degree of social integration and inclusion in communities and society at large, and the extent to which mutual interconnection and solidarity finds expression among communities and societies.

In terms of this characterisation, a populace is cohesive to the extent that the discriminations, inequities, marginalisations based on gender,ethnicity, class, language, nationality, age, disability or any other distinctions that provoke division, suspicion and conflict, are diminished and/or purged in a planned and persistent manner - this with community members and citizens as active participants, working together for the attainment of shared goals, devised and agreed upon to improve the living conditions of all.

South Africa is a still a divided country despite concerted and vigorous legislative efforts to unify and build a free, non-racial and non-sexist society.  One of the instruments used to divide South Africans during the apartheid era was the language policy.

The article examines the relationship between social cohesion and language policy during the build up to the new political dispensation that South Africa experienced in 1994.  Focus will also be on the new language policy that emerged in South Africa during the post-apartheid period and how this in turn impacted on social cohesion.

The article aims to investigate the impact of language policy on our ideologically and racially polarised society and whether this has had a deleterious or constructive impact on social cohesion in South Africa.

Empirically, the article's scholarly treatise will be on theoretical and national discourses shaped and diffused within the civil and political realms of the broader South African community.