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In the Balance by Hein Marais

The case for a universal basic income in South Africa and beyond

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6 in stock

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Hein Marais delivers a theoretically powerful, impressively documented, timely and urgent case for radical wealth redistribution …. Crucially, the book supports a basic income not as a policy fix, but as a far-reaching political and imaginative response to the steady collapse of a wage-centered social order. This is a book destined to have lasting influence.  — Franco Barchiesi, Ohio State University; author of Precarious Liberation: Workers, the State, and Contested Social Citizenship in Post-apartheid South Africa

If you have been searching for a way to clearly understand the concept of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), then this is the book that you have been waiting for. – Awande Buthelezi, coordinator for the #UBIGNOW Campaign and activist with the Climate Justice Charter Movement

This book is a major contribution to our understanding of the possibility for policies to achieve more equitable levels of well-being in the contemporary political economy of South Africa and the world.  – Peter B. Evans, Professor Emeritus Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

This is a must-read, narrative-changing book on a Universal Basic Income.  — Ferial Haffajee, Journalist and Associate Editor, Daily Maverick

By locating the demand for a universal basic income in the context of the crisis of waged work, Hein Marais’s book is an original contribution… it is his proposed agenda for action that activists, social movements, researchers and policy-makers must now respond to with a sense of urgency and purpose. — Mazibuko Jara, Executive Director, Pathways Institute, and co-founder of Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda, a community-based rural movement.

As jobs disappear and wages flat-line, waged work is an increasingly fragile and unattainable basis for dignified life. This predicament, deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic, is sparking urgent debates about alternatives such as a Universal Basic Income (UBI). Highly topical and distinctive in its approach, In the Balance: The Case for a Universal Basic Income in South Africa and Beyond is the most grounded and up-to-date examination yet of the need and prospects for a UBI in a global South setting such as South Africa.

Hein Marais casts the debate about a UBI in the wider context of the dispossessing pressures of capitalism and the onrushing turmoil of global warming, pandemics and social upheaval. Marais surveys the meaning, history and appeal of a UBI before even-handedly weighing the case for and against such an intervention.

The book explores the vexing questions a UBI raises about the relationship of paid work to social rights, about prevailing notions of citizens’ entitlement and dependency, and the role of the state in contemporary capitalism. Along with cost estimates for different versions of a basic income in South Africa, it discusses financing options and lays out the social, economic and political implications. This incisive new book advances both our theoretical and practical understanding of the prospects for a UBI.

The publication of this volume was supported by funding from the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS).