What drives and shapes the insufficient and unequal access to constitutionally guaranteed economic and social goods and services in South Africa? I pose three puzzling patterns of rights realization that are inconsistent with the literature: Why do a larger percent of households live in shacks now than at the end of apartheid despite the government and activists prioritizing housing? Why has utility progress been slow despite a mix of for-profit and public providers? Why does the government play a large role in indirectly feeding people despite a lack of awareness of and pressure for realizing the right to food? I analyze a combination of interviews, ethnographic observations, national survey data, and primary documents to understand the patterns of rights realization of education, electricity, food, housing, sanitation, social security, and water. By examining the patterns of rights realization for these seven rights in tandem, I find that the materiality of rights results in both synergistic and gatekeeper relationships between economic and social rights. These complex relationships both exacerbate and are compounded by the limited ability of litigation and the courts to enforce rights realization. Using a field-level approach, this research shows that there are relationships between economic and social rights based on their material characteristics, and that these gatekeeper and synergistic relationships between economic and social rights must be taken into account to understand complex patterns of rights realization.