Social history and the transition to capitalism in the south african countryside

By the early 1980s, analysis of the South African situation had come to be dominated by a new grouping of social historians.They pursued the ideal of a new form of historical explanation by seeking to uncover the ‘person in the street’. Whilst it is clear that such an approach locates itself in a sympathetic relationship to ‘the masses’, it does not necessarily provide a genuinely Marxist perspective which reveals and explains the process of exploitation and oppression characterizing the daily lives of the ‘masses’. The author refutes this theory of the masses and shows that macro processes and structural relations cannot be reduced to micro explanations. This is done by an analysis of the new studies on the agrarian history of South Africa: the shift towards a social history of the agrarian question has been a conceptually retrogressive development. Bibliogr., notes.

Title: Social history and the transition to capitalism in the south african countryside
Author: Morris, M.
Year: 1986
Periodical: Africa Perspective
Volume: 1
Issue: 5-6
Pages: 7-24
Language: English
Geographic term: South Africa
Abstract: By the early 1980s, analysis of the South African situation had come to be dominated by a new grouping of social historians.They pursued the ideal of a new form of historical explanation by seeking to uncover the ‘person in the street’. Whilst it is clear that such an approach locates itself in a sympathetic relationship to ‘the masses’, it does not necessarily provide a genuinely Marxist perspective which reveals and explains the process of exploitation and oppression characterizing the daily lives of the ‘masses’. The author refutes this theory of the masses and shows that macro processes and structural relations cannot be reduced to micro explanations. This is done by an analysis of the new studies on the agrarian history of South Africa: the shift towards a social history of the agrarian question has been a conceptually retrogressive development. Bibliogr., notes.