Choosing good neighbours: social tolerance and prejudice

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The South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS) was used to measure tolerance among the adult population in South Africa. The survey, a repeated cross-sectional research instrument that has been conducted annually by the HSRC since 2003, consists of nationally representative samples of South African adults, aged 16 years and older and living in households. In the past year the South African media has run a number of stories the controversy of the Spear painting at the Goodman affair for example that seem to suggest a fraying of social tolerance in post-apartheid society. But is this an accurate portrayal of the national landscape? Using recent nationally representative data, Steven Gordon, Jare Struwig and Ben Roberts tested levels of social tolerance in South Africa and although there is evidence of prejudice towards certain groups, they found cohesion at the local societal level. Indicators developed by the World Value Survey (an international survey that captures values and beliefs in over 50 countries) were adapted for the South African landscape by SASAS researchers enabling them to measure intolerance in the 2011 SASAS survey round. In all, 3 057 individuals participated in the 2011 SASAS round. By investigating how satisfied or dissatisfied an individual would be living next door to someone who was different from them, it was possible to measure animosity towards different groups in post-apartheid society.