Original Research

Xenophobic societal attitudes in a “new” South Africanism: Governance of public perceptions, national identities and citizenship

Johannes Tsheola, Millicent Ramoroka, Loretta Muzondi
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 11, No 4 | a56 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v11i4.56 | © 2015 Johannes Tsheola, Millicent Ramoroka, Loretta Muzondi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 February 2016 | Published: 31 December 2015

About the author(s)

Johannes Tsheola, Faculty of Management & Law, University of Limpopo, Fauna Park, South Africa
Millicent Ramoroka, Department of Development Planning & Management, University of Limpopo, Fauna Park, South Africa
Loretta Muzondi, Department of Development Planning & Management, University of Limpopo, Sovenga, South Africa

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This article argues that xenophobia is not a natural state of being for any society; instead, it is a product of socialisation which becomes excessive with violent abuses of the out- group immigrants where such conduct is institutionalised through state apparatus. In this context, post-apartheid South Africanisms cannot be generalised as intrinsically xenophobic because the dreadful societal attitudes and violent abuses are evidently products of institutionalized governance for socialization of public perceptions of hostilities and animosities through the politics and struggles of politico-socio-economic resources. The coinage and officialdom of rainbowism was admission that construction of a new national identity around culture was a virtual impossibility; and, the result was usurpation of exclusionary citizenship that came to define insiders away from outsiders. This notion of citizenship promised access to state and pubic resources, which did not materialise, leading to frustration against government and targeting of out-group African immigrants. Hence, the apparent “felt” collective threat among in-group communities against out-group immigrants over the untenable alibi of job and women stealing as well as acceptance of below minimum wages are inherently functions of irrational jealousy. This article frames this argument through a rigorous examination of the theorisation of xenophobia as “new racism”, models of governance of xenophobic societal attitudes for public hostilities, animosities and violent abuse. Furthermore, it examines constructions of new South Africanism, African Renaissance, exclusionary citizenship, exceptionalism, differentness and the society’s frustration with politico-socio-economic resources exclusionism amidst constitutional inclusivity, tolerance, cultural pluralism, inviolate human rights and the political elitism’s hyperbolic public stunts of a better life for all.


xenophobia; governance; public perceptions; societal attitudes; exclusionary citizenship; collective threat; exceptionalism; South Africanism


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