“A Competitive Environment Will Be Created” The Conflicting Effects of Economic Restructuring and Technological Change on the Workers of Pier 1 in Durban

Benjamin Foster Mays, SIT Study Abroad

South Africa: Reconciliation and Development


As countless historians and sociologists have pointed out time and time again, globalization has had a profound impact upon the workplace and the nature of work. This research project sets out to examine the diverse effects of economic liberalization and technological change on labor in South Africa. In particular, it utilizes the dockworkers on Pier 1 in the Port of Durban as a case study of the dynamic and evolving nature of South Africa's post-Apartheid workplace. Through much background reading on recent scholarship, a comprehensive analysis of economic, labor, and transportation policy in South Africa, and extensive field research within the container terminal of Pier 1, the project draws connections between neoliberalism, corporate restructuring, infrastructural investment, and organized labor. Ultimately, it seeks to underscore the need to avoid broad generalizations in academic discourse on the changing nature of the workplace.