‘Fear of numbers’: Reflections on the South African case.

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  • Author(s): Maré, Gerhard
  • Source:
    Current Sociology. Sep2011, Vol. 59 Issue 5, p616-634. 19p.
  • Additional Information
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    • Abstract:
      Arjun Appadurai’s The Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (2006) draws largely on the case of India for empirical data. The ‘fear of small numbers’ that he discusses relates to the insecurity of contemporary societies, where ‘pollution’ of the national body by minority groups leads not only to irritation and discomfort but at times to the need for the violent cleansing of the pollutant, to conflict. Neville Alexander (2008), similarly, said that ‘to define yourself into a minority corner in a situation such as the transition in South Africa is to play with fire in an almost literal sense’. In South Africa, historically, concerns with population numbers concern neither minorities nor majorities, but the manipulation of both through classification and counting of categories. South Africa presents us with the fear of numbers, both large and small. Such an approach demands acknowledgement of the complexity and international comparative studies of census-taking. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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