Today PARI launched a new Masters degree to the Organisational and Institutional Studies academic programme at Wits University. For 2019, PARI has accepted 8 Honours students and 6 Masters students to the multi-disciplinary degree course, based in the School of Social Sciences.
The new students were inducted with a brief history of South Africa’s democracy from the point of view of the state and civil society.
“The mode of engagement between the state and civil society has become very adversarial in many ways. That is why we have many organisations litigating against the state. But PARI asks a different question – how can we partner with the state to build the kind of administrations we need and to understand the kind of administrations that we have built since 1994 and why they are working or not working.”
Dr Buthelezi described the ethnographical style of research that PARI does into the state, from interdisciplinary perspectives, for example the research into SARS and National Treasury. And further, PARI research into state-society relations, for example the taxation project. See PARI reports here.
PARI is itself an academic institute attached, but not fully integrated, into Wits. The relationship with Wits started off as a post-graduate development programme, where PARI funded students who wanted to do research into public affairs, placed them in the relevant department at Wits, and co-supervised them with the university. This programme was eventually phased out to make way for the Organisational and Institutional Studies department in the School of Sciences. The interdisciplinary nature of the programme includes Sociology, Politics, History, Urban Studies, Law (from 2020) and Economics, and OIS students are able to take electives in any of these departments in the social sciences.