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Research in ISD is organised into six major themes:

1. Poverty and inequality

2. Social policy and social development

3. Urban and regional development

4. Technology, innovation and development

5. Social movements and civil society

The following research activities were undertaken by ISD staff during 2012/13.

A cost-benefit analysis of the 2011 South African Population Census: This study considers the uses and usefulness of census-taking in the light of its costs.  In addition to assisting with future plans for census-taking, the analysis will contribute towards improving the dissemination of results, identifying opportunities for maxim​izing the usage of the count and the other data collected by the Census.  The study is funded by Statistics South Africa and is being undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Statistics, Northwestern University. Staff members involved are Prof. Julian May and  Dr. Mulugeta Dinbabo, with Ms. Jacquiline Tamri who is a Masters Student in ISD.

A dynamic analysis of inequalities in child outcomes: This study makes use of the second wave of the South African National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) to explore trends and explanations for inequalities in child mortality, progression through school and nutritional status. The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom. It is being undertaken in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Cape Town and the Children’s Institute. The staff members involved are Prof. Julian May, with Ms. Winnie Sambu who is a Masters student in ISD.

Strengthening Information Society Research Capacity Alliance: Africa co-ordinator: This project management and capacity building project involves identifying and linking younger researchers in Africa with experienced researchers in both developed and developing countries. The objective is to develop social science capacity for the analysis of ICT and development. The project is conducted in collaboration with the Nanyang University of Technology (Singapore) and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, and is funded by the IDRC. The staff members involved are Prof. Julian May, with Ms. Kathleen Diga who is a PhD student in ISD. (

The Development of a Rights Based Global Research Agenda that responds to the present Child Rights Situation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Child Watch International (CWI) and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) commissioned a research project with the objective to identify gaps on the current situation of children’s rights based research by pinpointing its strengths and weaknesses, to expand and deepen the knowledge base on the state of children’s rights and to come up with a scientifically sound rights-based global research agenda. This research study has been conducted by Dr. Mulugeta Dinbabo - who picked and assessed two themes that were itemized on children’s rights as an outcome of the Call for Action from the Children’s Rights at a Cross-Roads conference. 

Social Movements and the Struggle for Housing in South Africa: The Case of Abahlali baseMjondolo. This research project investigates mobilizations for housing by the South African Shack Dwellers Movement or Abahlali baseMjondolo in Cape Town. This research seeks to highlight the complex and multifaceted ways in which social movement mobilizations for housing operates, the internal and external outcomes they produce, and their on-going struggles for democratising the city. Dr Abdulrazak Karriem is working on this project with a Masters student in ISD. This research is supported by the UWC Research Fund.

An assessment of the Extended Public Works Programme and the Community Work Programme: This collaborative project with the School of Government involved a review of secondary data and administrative records from the two major public works programmes being undertaken in South Africa.  The research investigates public finance allocations, the numbers being employed and reviews findings from monitoring and evaluation reports.  Prof. Julian May and Dr. Leon Pretorius are working on this project which is being supported by the Office of the President.

The ICT Ecosystem and development: Comparative case studies: This project is funded by the IDRC and will provide travel and capacity building support to 40 emerging researchers in developing countries.  A workshop will be held in December, 2013 and special volume of the journal, Information Technology for Development will be published in 2014.  Prof. Julian May and Ms. Jacqui Tamri are working on this project.

Millennium Development Goal One Report: Prof. Julian May is working with Statistics South Africa in the preparation of the MDG report for 2013.  He is compiling the report for Goal 1, eliminating poverty and hunger.

Recent Publications and Research Output​​


Hunter, N., and May, J., (2013). Age, employment and health in South Africa, in Maharaj, P., (ed.) Aging and Health in Africa, Springer, New York, 171-196.

Attwood, H., Braathen, E., Diga, K.  and May, J., (2013). Telecentre functionality in South Africa: Re-enabling the community ICT access environment.   Journal of Community Informatics, forthcoming.

Dinbabo, M. (2013). Child rights in sub-Saharan Africa: a call for a Rights-Based Global Research Agenda. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk: 48 (1): 271 - 293. 

Agbaam, C. & Dinbabo, M. (2013). Social grant, livelihood empowerment and poverty reduction at the household level: empirical evidence from Ghana. Journal of Social Sciences, forthcoming. 

Karriem, A. (2013). Space, Ecology, and Politics in the Praxis of Brazil’s Landless Movement. In Gramscian Geographies: Space, Ecology, Politics, M. Ekers, G. Hart, S. Kipfer, and A. Loftus (eds.). London: Wiley-Blackwell.

Conradie, I & Robeyns, I., (2013). Aspirations and human development interventions. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, forthcoming.

Conradie, I., (2013). Can deliberate efforts to realise aspirations increase capabilities? A South African case study. Oxford Development Studies 14(2):189-219.  


Braathen, E., Attwood, H., May, J., (2012). The Role of Politics in Telecentres: Cases from South Africa, International Journal of e-Politics, 3(3): 1-20.

May, J., (2012). Digital and other poverties: Exploring the connection in four East African countries, Information Technologies and International Development 8(2): 33-50.

Penderis, SP., (2012). Interrogating the emerging South African developmental state. Africanus 42(1), 4-15.

Penderis, SP., (2012). Theorizing participation: from tyranny to emancipation. Journal of African and Asian Local Government Studies 1(3), 1-28.

Fohtung, NG., Etienne, M.,  Fohtung, F., Fongwa, S., Awaseh, S., Molem, S.,  Okezie, G., Oneal, J. and Idoko, U., (2012). Investment Climate Reforms and Development of SMEs: A comparative analysis of from South Africa, Cameroon and Nigeria, ICBE-RF Research Report No. 30/12.

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