ANC decline, social mobilization and political society: understanding South Africa’s evolving political culture

This article examines the evolving political culture in contemporary South Africa. It draws on elite culture, neopatrimonialism, and revisionist institutionalist perspectives to understand State weaknesses and patterns of politicization confronting South Africa’s developing democracy. While it accepts that the democratic political system and its constituent institutions are in place and function formally, a discourse of violence or threats of violence to rival political actors is commonplace. The article is structured as follows: the first part describes the increased social mobilization of disgruntled citizens who rely on a discourse of violence rather than articulating grievances through political structures; the second part focuses on those factors that ferment this kind of political culture. The article discusses the deepening economic inequality and its expression in class conflict under conditions of democracy. It then discusses the politics of the ANC as a dominant party, and in particular intra-elite conflict, ANC factionalization, and the consequent weakening of State institutions. These factors encourage a politics in which political society, rather than civil society, becomes the main terrain for expressing conflict. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]

Title: ANC decline, social mobilization and political society: understanding South Africa’s evolving political culture
Author: Reddy, Thiven
Year: 2010
Periodical: Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies (ISSN 0258-9346)
Volume: 37
Issue: 2-3
Pages: 185-206
Language: English
Geographic term: South Africa
External link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02589346.2010.522329
Abstract: This article examines the evolving political culture in contemporary South Africa. It draws on elite culture, neopatrimonialism, and revisionist institutionalist perspectives to understand State weaknesses and patterns of politicization confronting South Africa’s developing democracy. While it accepts that the democratic political system and its constituent institutions are in place and function formally, a discourse of violence or threats of violence to rival political actors is commonplace. The article is structured as follows: the first part describes the increased social mobilization of disgruntled citizens who rely on a discourse of violence rather than articulating grievances through political structures; the second part focuses on those factors that ferment this kind of political culture. The article discusses the deepening economic inequality and its expression in class conflict under conditions of democracy. It then discusses the politics of the ANC as a dominant party, and in particular intra-elite conflict, ANC factionalization, and the consequent weakening of State institutions. These factors encourage a politics in which political society, rather than civil society, becomes the main terrain for expressing conflict. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]