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Marcelo Bohrt Seeghers
A Cartography of State Capacity in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Toward a Spatial Measure of the 21st Century Developmental State
Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach to development has become paradigmatic. Sen defines development as the expansion of people’s opportunities to “lead the kind of lives they value – and have reason to value” (Sen 1999: 10). Consensus has emerged among scholars and policymakers that capability-enhancing development is led first and foremost through the expansion of health, education and basic services. Recent sociological work argues that capability-enhancing development should be led proactively by states. Despite growing consensus on the central role of the state in providing these basic services we lack a measure of state capacity in this regard. We fill this lacuna by proposing a spatial index of the 21st Century Developmental State. We apply this measure to examine the state’s impact in post-apartheid Johannesburg. Post-apartheid Johannesburg with its deeply entrenched inequalities, combined with the state’s commitment to address inequality through the expansion of services, represents an ideal case through which to explore the dynamics of social and spatial transformation and to measure the state’s developmental capacity. In the case of Johannesburg we find variation in local level development that points to the persistence of inequality, and the importance of state-civil society linkages in promoting local development. The 21C-DS Index provides a rich spatial cartography of local development.