Knowledge is Power, but Understanding is Everything

Recent Posts

Context not Cause: Migration and Social Cohesion

Context not Cause: Migration and Social Cohesion

On 7 Sept 2018, Dr Tara Polzer Ngwato, Social Surveys Research Director, presented a paper at the International Conference on Migration – Southern Perspectives on Migration: Addressing Knowledge Production, Policies and Cooperation. The conference was hosted by UNESCO and the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Dr Polzer Ngwato’s presentation, entitled “Context not Cause: how local government should integrate but not essentialise mobility in measuring social cohesion,” argues that local government in South Africa can and should take a broadly ‘cohesion-sensitive’ approach to service delivery planning and public participation and that an awareness of community-level migration dynamics is an integral component of this approach.


From ECD to higher and further education, we measure the quality and quantity of learning, continually adapting the assessment and measurement methods required

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Access to Education Study

“First nationally representative study in SA to measure the barriers to access education for primary and secondary school children”.

Education Study Fact Sheets

Social Cohesion & Protest

We study social cohesion at the community level, seeking to understand the underlying causes, triggers and responses to unrest and the ways in which communities organise and govern themselves.

Poverty & Inequality

To reduce both absolute and relative deprivation, it is crucial to understand how individuals, families and communities experience deprivation in all its dimensions, and how different people and communities experience and respond to it in different ways.

Land & Housing

Land and housing are economic assets, spaces of social interaction, and points of identity and belonging. These dimensions, and more, inform our thinking about land tenure systems, housing needs assessments, settlement planning, infrastructure impacts, urbanisation & labour mobility, informal settlement upgrades and farm worker evictions.

Farm Evictions Study

“Cutting edge new methodology to measure the prevalence & impact of farm evictions in South Africa.”
Book: “Still searching for Security” by Social Surveys and Nkunzi Development Association

Social Issues in Mining

Social Surveys has a 30-year track record in the mining sector, advising communities, mining houses and civil society partners on labour migration, housing needs, relocations, employee safety and productivity, protest risk and environmental impacts.

Civil Society, Philanthropy, Giving & Volunteering

How do you understand the nature of civil society organisations, community-level philanthropy and the practices of giving and volunteering in African contexts characterised by informality, collectivism and deep mutual support networks?

The NPO Study

“First nationally representative study to determine size & scope of the NPO sector in SA – part of the Johns Hopkins NPO Project”
Book: “Size & Scope of the Non-profit Sector in South Africa” by Mark Swilling & Bev Russell-Rice


from behaviour change communication to health facility capacity assessments, and from in-depth local pilot studies to large-scale multi-method impact evaluations, our work in health spans many subjects and methods

Youth & Employment

We seek to understand the full spectrum of ways in which people participate in the economy

Methods and Field Notes

Quality in, quality out. Excellence in data collection and processing is fundamental to interpretation and insight with integrity.

Gender and Sexuality

To challenge homophobia, it is important to understand sexuality and gender issues

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Events give us the chance to talk to new people. Talking is good! New people are good!