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'Tata ma chance': on contingency and the lottery in post-apartheid South Africa

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Since its inception in March 2000, the South African National Lottery has been treated as both a developmental boon and a dangerously exploitative new consumer product. In both discourses the poor feature prominently: as recipients of Lotto largesse and as its most frequent victims. Both academics and the National Responsible Gambling Programme have traced the poor's participation in the Lottery to their financial illiteracy and to their extraordinary millennial hopes. Based on twenty months of ethnographic fieldwork in Cape Town's townships in 2008–10, this article puts paid to such interpretations by looking at the economic realities and lottery participation of ‘the poor’. I contend that poor people in these areas have adapted enormously flexible ways of dealing with the multiple contingencies that mark their lives. This flexibility often translates into very modest investments in the Lottery, both financially and in terms of hope. As such, playing the Lottery is just one of a range of ways in which people ‘make a plan’ and ‘tata ma chance’ (take a chance).

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/42045/

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