Poverty and Legal Empowerment - A Minor Field Study of South African Farm Workers and Dwellers

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: Reducing and eradicating poverty is one of humanities pressing challenges, one that the UN Commission of Legal Empowerment of the Poor has taken on. This thesis describes the prevailing poverty of South African farm workers and dwellers and explores why the empowerment efforts that have been made have not lifted them out of poverty. The results of this study are contrasted with the results of the Commission. The findings build on a case study undertaken in South Africa. They constitute first, the empowerment strategies employed by grassroot organisations; they put emphasis on education and awareness-building next to solidarity and organisation. The organisations’ request for reform from the government is described in the realms of access to justice and the rule of law, labour rights and property rights. Second, a description of the constituting factors of farm workers’ and dwellers’ poverty, identified as a system of paternalism, a generally high unemployment, and unbeneficial inclusion in the formal economy. The thesis concludes that the case of South African farm workers and dwellers do not fit into the Commission’s understanding of the cause of poverty, which to the Commission is the exclusion from the rule of law, hence legal empowerment is but one part of reducing poverty.

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