Social sciences: Perspectives on contemporary society
An introduction to long-standing questions about the nature of human societies and contemporary challenges. Topics to be discussed include globalisation and increasing connectedness; rising unemployment, inequality and poverty; rapid urbanisation and the modern city form; transformations in the nature of work; environmental degradation and tensions between sustainability and growth; shifts in global power relations; the future of the nation-state and supra-national governance structures; and possibilities for extending human rights and democracy. Critical questions are posed about modern selfhood, sociality, culture and identity against the background of new communications technologies, ever more multicultural societies, enduring gender, class and race inequities, and the emergence of new and the resurgence of older forms of social and political identity. These issues are approached from the vantage of our location in southern Africa and the continent, drawing on social science perspectives.