This paper presents key findings from a livelihoods survey of households in four poor neighbourhoods in the Western Cape district of Ceres, one of the centres of South Africa's deciduous fruit export industry. It explores the nature and dynamics of the persistence of poverty in the context of continued and relatively sustained economic development and growth, and considers whether the concept of 'social exclusion' can help in making sense - especially policy sense - of these dynamics. It is suggested that while focusing on 'social exclusion' certainly helps draw attention to power relations, powerlessness, and the processes that perpetuate these, coming up with workable policy responses to social exclusion requires developing a much more nuanced analysis of the social processes involved in what is perhaps more productively thought of as 'adverse incorporation'. The paper begins with a short description of Ceres and a brief introduction to the key theoretical issues. A schematic overview of social relations and inequality in Western Cape agriculture precedes a summary of some of the key policy responses developed to address poverty and inequality after the transition to democratic rule, and a sketch of some of the most important trends in the sector. This provides the background for a discussion of household livelihood activities and problems. The paper draws on quantitative surveys and semi-structured interviews with selected households, as well as on analyses and insights flowing from medium and long-term qualitative research and fieldwork on deciduous fruit production and social power relations in the area.

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