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About us

Society, Work and Politics


The Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) is one of the University of the Witwatersrand’s most enduring research entities. Our work is shaped by the overarching aim of producing knowledge to help understand ‘the making and unmaking of social order’, with a particular focus on disadvantaged communities and the problems they face, as well as collective efforts to effect change.


Our research is shared through publications (both academic and more popular forms of writing), teaching, seminar programmes and conferences, as well as engagement in and with processes of policy formulation, legal processes and other more activist-driven interventions. It is our intellectual endeavour to contribute to different forms of theorising, theory-building and critique from our particular vantage point in 'the global south'. 

Current research projects are organised in the following clusters:

SWOP has four broad aims:


  1. To make distinctive and significant contributions to the development of social theory in and from 'the global south';

  2. To cultivate dynamic and diverse research communities and to build partnerships with other centres in 'the global south';

  3. To produce the kind of engaged and innovative knowledge required for policy innovation in the field of development and for experimentation with alternatives in all spheres of society; 

  4. To develop new generations of researchers, writers and critically engaged scholars.

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