The Misconception of Rural Development in South Africa: A Recipe for Socio-Economic Stagnation

Thanyani S Madzivhandila


The conventional understanding of development as conditional improvement is no longer entirely tenable. That is, the current perceptive meaning of what developed and non-developed should constitute, has a geographical and material view. This has led to the distinction of rural and urban areas, where urban constitutes living in advanced socio-economic conditions, while rural, consequently refers to the extreme life characterised by poverty and survival competition for socio-economic opportunities. This conceptual paper argues that while it is generally accepted that agricultural activities characterise rural life in third world countries, in South Africa this has proved to be a misconception. Agricultural activities are found to be commercially oriented, whereas rural living is more leaning towards non-farm socio-economic activities. This misconstruction of rural development has thus lead to unsustainable rural socio-economic progress. The purpose of this paper is therefore to uncover the current understanding of rural development and its strategies, socio-economic conditions pertaining to rural areas and challenges facing implementation of rural development strategies in South Africa. The paper concludes that whereas urban living cannot be envisaged a blue print for developed rural areas, rural development should ample sustainable socio-economic choices, namely: employment opportunities, access to market activities and social welfare services for rural population, for reducing an excessive rural-urban dependency.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n8p89

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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