Our Research

MISTRA carries out research that addresses South Africa’s complex challenges, straddling issues of nation-formation, economic growth, social equity and it’s global positioning.

MISTRA self-publishes its products, through Jacana Media. The products of the Institute include publications such as books, papers, articles and consultancy reports. The research is conducted through a process of engagement and facilitation, drawing on the wide range of available expertise in the country and globally.

Each research project is led by a Project Leader drawn from inside or outside the Institute and coordinated by a MISTRA researcher. Each research project is overseen by a project team drawing on external and internal expertise and tapping into wider expertise through the holding of a range of workshops during the duration of the project, culminating in a public conference of experts and stakeholders at which the outcomes of the research are presented.

Our research faculties

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Political Economy Faculty

This faculty deals with socio-economic issues and their intersection with the social structure of South African society and politics. Its remit incorporates the structure of the South African economy and the impact of globalisation on the region and South Africa.

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Knowledge Economy & Scientific Advancement (KESA) Faculty

This faculty deals with the logics of natural sciences and their relevance for social development, including such issues as discovery, invention and innovation, incubation, adaptation, appropriation and quantitative analysis.

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Humanity Faculty

This faculty interrogates the advance of human civilisation including human thought, encompassing history, arts and culture and broad issues such as ideology and religion – in relation to societal development – at national and supra-national levels.

Research approach

MISTRA’s work is designed with the intention of impacting on policy-making and in so doing seeks to be a change agent in society. Our work seeks to contribute to the developmental challenges faced by South Africa using various channels.

MISTRA does not simply conduct research in-house and present the final outcome – books and policy briefs – to decision-makers. Each research project undertaken consists of a project team coordinated by a full-time MISTRA researcher which comprises of academics, field experts and policy-makers and practitioners. Through this approach policy-makers are engaged with the research throughout the process and thus the research organically interacts with their own policy-development processes.

Through the duration of MISTRA’s research projects a series of workshops are held involving a wider network of experts and policy-makers to test the hypotheses and outcomes of the research at its different stages and ensure that the final outcome adequately addresses the policy-making challenges. At the end of the research project a public conference is held to communicate the outcome of the research and to broaden the public discourse.

Current research projects

Launched publications

MISTRA publishes a Research Report to conclude each research project.

Special projects

MISTRA's special projects are research projects that do not fall within our Priority Research Projects but have been commissioned internally or through partnerships because of their strategic importance.

2022 Macro-Social Report (MSR)

This 2022 Macro-Social Report (MSR) aims to update and build on the MSR published by the Presidency of South Africa in 2006. That document discussed major macro-social trends in the country, with a specific focus...

Reflections on Africa’s Place in the World

Reflections on Africa’s Place in the World brings together a collection of essays on international relations and Africa that have been published by the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) during its first decade.

COVID-19 interventions and their impact in South Africa

The juxtaposition found in South African society, where poverty and opulence exist alongside each other, has yet again been brought to the fore with the advent of COVID-19. The country’s extreme inequality is always a...