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NETWORKS AND PARTNERSHIPS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE? THE PRAGMATIC TURN IN THE RELIGIOUS SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT DEBATE IN SOUTH AFRICA1

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<title> Abstract </title>This article offers a critical account of the turn in the religious social development debate in South Africa from its initial critical people-centred disposition to a preoccupation with pragmatic considerations, that is, its elaborated claim on the need for a formal religion-state partnership in the field of social development on the basis of the extensiveness and effectiveness of existing welfare and social development networks run by the religious sector. After presenting a brief overview of the initial social development debate, the article unpacks and discusses the essential shift in the debate and the respective support that it has found in the idea of social capital and a selective reading of an American case study to sustain its pragmatic argument. Finally, the article looks beyond the current limitations in the debate and concludes with an argument for renewed critical engagement by the religious sector in South Africa by which it would (1) advance a moral debate about social structure and direction, and (2) become a rigorous exponent itself of the social development paradigm on the level of actual implementation and empowerment 'from below.'

Affiliations: 1: Unit for Religion and Development Research Department of Practical Theology and Missiology University of Stellenbosch Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602 Republic of South Africa, Email: iswart@sun.ac.za

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