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Financialisation and Labour: What does Marikana tell us about Inequality in South Africa?


  • Rex McKenzie

    (School of Economics and Business Sciences, University of Witwatersrand)


This paper focuses on the relationship between financialisation and inequality in South Africa. As such, the focus is on the importance/significance of finance and the financial sector in perpetuating old and new inequality fault lines in contemporary South Africa. It uses the tragic Marikana story as a case study to examine the relationship between inequality and financialisation of the economy. In particular I ask what has financialisation of the South African economy meant for the mineworkers of Marikana? Financialisation of the economy and its social relations is extending the reach of finance and financial interests into hitherto virgin territory, thereby reinforcing old inequalities while at the same time introducing new ones. The consequences press the working classes to the wall and complicate the power arrangements within and among the unions. At the heart of the matter is the character of the Minerals Energy Complex (at the centre of South Africa’s social and economic affairs) and its needs. I contend that the MEC is fundamental to the understanding of inequality in South Africa. Marikana itself, points to new and novel sources of inequality reinforcing the old.

Suggested Citation

  • Rex McKenzie, 2013. "Financialisation and Labour: What does Marikana tell us about Inequality in South Africa?," Working Papers 1305, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:new:wpaper:1305

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    More about this item


    Finance; Financialisation; Labour;

    JEL classification:

    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • J5 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy

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