Eating from One Pot
The Dynamics Of Survival In Poor South African Households
Published by: Wits University Press
192 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- ISBN: 9781868145331
- Published: April 2011
An examination of poor South African households and how they survive
As poverty and unemployment deepen in contemporary South Africa, the burning question becomes, how do the poor survive? Eating from One Pot provides a compelling answer. Based on intensive fieldwork, it shows how many African households are on the brink of collapse. That they keep going at all can largely be attributed to the struggles of older women against poverty. They are the fulcrum on which household survival turns. This book describes how households in two different areas in KwaZulu-Natal are sites of both stability and conflict. As one of the interviewees put it: 'We eat from one pot and should always help each other'. Yet the stability of family networks is becoming fragile because of the enormous burden placed on them by unemployment and unequal power relations. Through careful analysis, the experiences of survival are discussed in relation to the restructuring of the country's welfare and social policies, and the extension of social grants. Mosoetsa argues that these policies shape the livelihoods that people pursue in order to survive under desperate conditions, but fail to address the root causes of poverty and inequality.