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Centre for Social Science Research

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The Centre for Social Science (CSSR) is an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Cape Town dedicated to conducting and building capacity for systematic, policy-relevant social science research in South Africa, the region and across Africa.

The CSSR presently consists of the Sustainable Societies Unit (SSU), Democracy in Africa Research Unit (DARU), AIDS and Society Research Unit (ASRU) and Families and Society Research Unit (FaSRU), as well as a small Directorate. Unit Heads report on their research activities through the CSSR Director to the Dean of Humanities. The CSSR is also assisted by an Advisory Board that meets twice-yearly. We also continue to work closely with UCT's DataFirst Resource Unit (which was started as part of CSSR), an extensive digital archive of social science databases.

CSSR projects are usually team-oriented bringing together multiple local and international researchers, and offering post-graduate students significant opportunities for hands-on training by involving them in all stages of projects. Research findings are presented and discussed at regular weekly seminars and published as CSSR Working Papers.

Substantively, the CSSR conducts research in the broad areas of democratisation, development, poverty and public health.

  • The Social Surveys Unit (SSU) conducts research on a range of social dynamics using survey data (especially the Cape Area Panel Study, and the Cape Area Study) and related qualitative data.
  • The Democracy in Africa Research Unit (DARU) conducts research on a range of issues around democratisation in South and Southern Africa, using public opinion data but also creating new systematic data bases on elections, legislatures and local government.
  • The AIDS and Society Research Unit (ASRU) conducts research on the social impacts of HIV/AIDS, including issues of parenting, disclosure, sexual behaviour and public welfare, again using both survey and qualitative data. 
  • Families and Societies Research Unit (FaSRU) promotes research that links economic and social aspects of families and households and employs mixed methods combining qualitative and quantitative research. The unit aims to become a hub for research in the field of families, kinships and households in South and sub-Saharan Africa.