The Centre prioritises research that focuses on ‘realised’ citizenship, meaning the ways in which the formal aspects of democracy are given real life substance through forms of participation, and the active claiming of human and socio-economic rights.
Following from decades of research with international and regional partnerships, the Centre’s approach to citizenship centred research is based on a recognition that the lived realities of citizenship and the formal conceptual definitions thereof are often far removed from each other in the global South. Even in formal democracies such as South Africa, rights on paper and rights in practice remain distinct, and forms of citizen action including a wide range of mobilisation strategies and forms of networking are essential. The gap between the rights of the advantaged and of the disadvantaged reinforces global political inequalities and relations of power. The Centre’s research overall aim to explore the dimensions of accessing rights through strategies and forms of mobilisation that also tackle embedded issues relating to poverty and inequality.
Research also encompasses transnational regional alliances and strategies for enhanced economic rights and more inclusive development. Currently a key focus of research is the BRICS alliance (Brazil- Russia, India, India and South Africa). This aspect of the research focuses both on state led processes of BRICS interaction but also “BRICS-from-Below” the contestations and challenges from below to understanding more state based alliance building and its impact on civil society.