On ethics, inequality, public corruption and the middle class : the case of South Africa

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    The article deals with ethics, inequality and the role of the middle class, especially its white collar component. The article uses empirical realities in South Africa to illustrate the relationships between these items. The article begins with a brief exploration of the conceptualisation of ethics and the empirical manifestations of a public sociology of ethics based on an analysis of the concrete details of social practice evident in the actions of individuals, groups, social and state entities and society at large. Next, levels of inequality and their manifestations in South Africa are outlined. The success of various governments, social and financial interventions to alleviate poverty are considered as the country’s large gaps of inequality have not narrowed much. The discussion of the concept of a middle class, with special reference to the white collar section, is followed by an overview of recent empirical research findings which suggest that there are high levels of corruption in this stratum in South Africa. It is shown that this stratum is now characterised by a loss of ethical standards and the compelling need for individuals to satisfy their own personal financial and material interests. It is concluded that the results of such behaviour at all levels of society must have serious consequences for South Africa, and will, in many ways, perpetrate inequality.