South African Culture
The family is the foundational unit of South African society. However, the term means different things to different in South Africa. For most white South Africans, ‘family’ (or the typical family household) refers to the of immediate family members – mother, father and children. Meanwhile, Asian and mixed- South Africans often consider the extended family to be as close as their immediate family and have multigenerational households.
For black South Africans, the structural pattern of the family is even more variable depending on the tribe to which they belong. Some households are multigenerational while others are horizontal (in which men and their families live in the oldest brother’s household). Furthermore, some tribes condone , offering a different family pattern entirely. In others, there is no concept of a family unit. One man in the community is considered the ‘King’ and rules as the . Men then have children with any woman they choose, and those children are raised communally or by their blood-related mother. These tribal orientations give a more communal understanding of kinfolk for many black South Africans. Like the blood-related family does for other cultures, the tribe gives emotional and financial support to the individual, provides a network, and defines one’s responsibility.
In most families, the father acts as the . Elders are shown significant respect by all , but it is a standard more widely stressed in the mixed- , black and Asian households. White South African families show respect to their close communal, family friends by referring to them as ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’.
Due to the high cost of living, women who are able to find a job almost always work. Those without a job are often expected to dote on their husbands. In communities that condone , women are not allowed to have more than one husband whilst men are allowed to have multiple wives. White South African couples divorce at a rate much lower than Australians due to their close adherence to Christian values.
Download this Cultural Profile
Too busy to read it right now?
You can download this cultural profile in an easy-to-read PDF format that can be printed out and accessed at any time.
Population54,300,704[July 2016 est.]
LanguagesIsizulu [official] (22.7%)IsiZhosa [official] (16%)Afrikaans [official] (13.5%)English [official] (9.6%)Sepedi [official] (9.1%)Setswana [official] (8.0%)Sesotho [official] (7.6%)Xitsonga [official] (4.5%)siSwati [official] (2.5%)Tshivenda [official] (2.4%)isiNdebele [official] (2.1%)Other (2.1%)[2011 est.]
ReligionProtestant Christianity (36.6%)Catholic Christianity (7.1%)Other Christianity (36%)No Religion (15.1%)Islam (1.5%)Other (2.3%)Unspecified (1.4%)[2001 est.]
EthnicitiesBlack Africans (80.2%)White (8.4%)Coloured (8.8%)Indian/Asian (2.5%)[2014 est.]Note: Coloured is a term used in South Africa to refer to persons of mixed race ancestry
Power Distance 49 Individualism 65 Masculinity 63 Uncertainty Avoidance 49 Long Term Orientation 34 Indulgence 63 What's this?
Australians with South African Ancestry118,960 [2016 census]
South Africans in Australia
Population162,449[2016 census]This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in South Africa.
GenderMale (49.2%)Female (50.8%)
ReligionAnglican Christianity (14.7%)Catholic Christianity (13.7%)No Religion (15.1%)No Religion (13.6%)Judaism (8.9%)Other (49%)
AncestrySouth African (38.6%)English (22.5%)Dutch (5.4%)Scottish (4.9%)Other (28.6%)
Language Spoken at HomeEnglish (74.7%)Afrikaans (21.6%)German (0.4%)Other (2.7%)Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 97.5% speak English fluently.
DiasporaAnglican Christianity (14.7%)Catholic Christianity (13.7%)No Religion (13.6%)Judaism (8.9%)Other (49%)
Arrival to AustraliaPrior to 2001 (24.2%)2001-2006 (24.2%)2007-2011 (27.2%)
Cultural Atlas eBook Purchaseclose
Cultural Profile PDF - South Africa
Cultural Profile PDF - South Africa
Please provide your email to receive your eBook download and receipt.