Contemporary South African foreign policy: public knowledge, beliefs and preferences

OUTPUT TYPE: Policy briefs
TITLE AUTHOR(S): B.Roberts, J.Struwig, S.Gordon, N.Bohler-Muller
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Intranet: HSRC Library: shelf number 8605

Download this report

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at


In this policy brief we analyse data from a 2013 survey of 2 739 South Africans on their interest in and knowledge of foreign affairs, views on the country's foreign policy goals, as well as foreign policy preferences. We find that public awareness of events outside South Africa is relatively circumscribed, suggesting the continued need for education strategies to improve public knowledge of foreign affairs. In the absence of knowledge, we find that ideological positions drive foreign policy preferences and that the public is polarised on many important foreign policy questions. We suggest that more research is needed to investigate differential public support for the policy direction government seeks to adopt, and that future work should focus on monitoring public perceptions of foreign policy, as well as perceptions of the benefits of foreign policy activities.