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Director: Institute of Social and Economic Research

Robert van Niekerk profile

Matthew Goniwe Chair in Social Policy and Director

Prof Robert Van Niekerk

BA(Hons) (UCT), MSc Sociology (LSE), MPhil, DPhil (Oxon)

E-mail: r.vanniekerk@ru.ac.za

Prof Robert van Niekerk’s area of research, teaching and publication is the institutional history, ideologies and understandings of social policy and social change in South Africa. He also has an interest in social policy in a post-apartheid South Africa – particularly polices aimed at overcoming inequality and developing social rights of citizenship and the ‘good society’, and looking at the factors that account for success and failure in policy implementation.

Prof Van Niekerk currently is the project lead researcher (or co-leader) on the following research projects:

  • A multi-country large-scale study on the developmental state and social policy. The study is funded by SANPAD and includes South Africa, the United Kingdom, India, China, the Netherlands and Ireland.
  • A research programme on health policy, co-developed with Prof Rebecca Surender, who now leads that programme.  
  • A research study entitled Effecting Social Citizenship through Social Policy: Policies, Contestations and Practices. The key research issue on which the study focusses is the social policy positions of political parties and the views of social citizenship and the post-apartheid good society that those social policy positions reflect. The study is co-lead with Dr Yusuf Sayed, ISER Senior Research Associate and Reader at the University of Sussex.

Recent publications:

Van Niekerk, R. (2013) Social Democracy and the ANC: Back to the Future? In: A Lula Moment for South Africa? Lessons from Brazil. Edited by Edward Webster and Karen Hurt. Johannesburg: Chris Hani Institute.

Van Niekerk, R. (2013) Social policy, social citizenship and the historical idea of a social democratic welfare state in South Africa. Transformation, Edition 81, pp.112 - 139

Van Niekerk, R.D. (2012) Revisiting History: The Creation of Provinces and the Politics of Social Policy in a Democratic South Africa. Social Policy & Administration, 46 (6), pp.617-635.

Van Niekerk, R.D. (2012) The historical roots of a national health system in South Africa. In: Ruiters, G.D. and Van Niekerk, R. (eds.). Universal Health Care in Southern Africa: Policy contestation in health system reform in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Durban: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.

Van Niekerk, R.D. (2012) Health policy reform in the last days of apartheid and the dilemmas facing the ANC. In: Ruiters, G.D. and Van Niekerk, R. (eds.). Universal Health Care in Southern Africa: Policy contestation in health system reform in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Durban: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.

Key Presentations

Van Niekerk, R. (2013) The Historical Roots of a Social Democratic Tradition in the African National Congress. Comparing Brazil and South Africa: A Labour Perspective Round Table. COSATU House, Johannesburg. 7 February 2013.

Van Niekerk, R. (2012) Transforming Health care – the case for a universally provided South African NHS (National Health Service).  The State and Social Transformation: Alternative Economic and Social Strategies SANPAD/ISER Conference, 12 – 13 November 2013, Durban.

Van Niekerk, R. and Sayed, Y. (2012) Effecting social citizenship through social policy in South Africa: policies, practices and contestations in the African National Congress and Democratic Alliance. Politics and Policy 2012 Conference, 19-20 September 2012. Bristol, United Kingdom.

Van Niekerk, R. (2012) What kind of future society for South Africa? The Struggle for a National Health Service. Frederich Ebert Stiftung Young Leaders Training Programme, Johannesburg, 2012.

Last Modified :Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:09:19 SAST