Mobilisation and insurgent citizenship of the Anti-Privatisation Forum, South Africa: An ethnographic study

Runciman, Carin Ferris (2012) Mobilisation and insurgent citizenship of the Anti-Privatisation Forum, South Africa: An ethnographic study. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2012runcimanphd.pdf] PDF
Download (4MB)
Printed Thesis Information:


This thesis examines the mobilisation practices of one of the largest social movement organisations to have emerged in post-apartheid South Africa, the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF). Making a contribution to the growing field of scholarship on the global justice movement, this thesis presents an analysis of the micro-levels of mobilisation in order to provide a deeper understanding of the everyday forms of resistance articulated and enacted by the APF and its affiliated community-based organisations. Locating itself within the political process paradigm as developed by Doug McAdam (1982, 1996), Sidney Tarrow (1988, 1994, 1998) and Charles Tilly (1978, 2008), the study of micro-processes of mobilisation is advanced through an analysis of the interaction between mobilising structures, political opportunities and framing, in order to tease out the internal political, strategic and organisational differences within the APF. I propose that the APF and its affiliates should be conceptualised as a ‘social movement community’, arguing that such a conceptualisation places a critical focus on the significance of political scale, the importance of space and place as well as a consideration of the political, social and cultural aspects of collective action. By combining perspectives from social movement theory with a Gramscian perspective on resistance and counter-hegemony, this thesis presents an empirically and theoretically grounded analysis of the conditions which both facilitate and constrain the emergence and practice of transformative collective action.

With a close focus upon the internal practices of mobilisation, the analysis presented contributes to a flourishing field of scholarship which analyses social movements as alternative public spaces in which individuals contest dominant practices of citizenship and democracy and forge potentially counter-hegemonic relations. Utilising James Holston’s (1998, 2008, 2009) concept of ‘insurgent citizenship’ this thesis examines the paradoxes of the post-apartheid democratic settlement, where the constitutional rights which have been extended to all sections of the polity have been undermined by neoliberal policies which have resulted in the privatisation of basic services and reshaped relations between the citizen and the state. Furthermore, as I will demonstrate, the quality and experience of democracy post-apartheid has also been undermined by increasing violence and inefficiencies within the justice system. This thesis argues that social movements provide important spaces for the alternative practice of citizenship and democracy in which socio-economically marginalised groups seek not only to be accommodated within the polity but also challenge the economic, political and social foundations upon which the polity is built. However, while social movements may offer progressive challenges to hegemonic relations through the course of collective action it is also possible that some forms of inequalities will become further entrenched. Thus, the analysis which follows offers a critical account of the insurgent citizenship practices of the APF which considers how some forms of inequalities, particularly in relation to gender, may become entrenched through the processes of mobilisation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: social movement mobilisation, insurgent citizenship, South Africa, anti-privatisation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Virdee, Prof. Satnam and Waites, Dr. Matthew
Date of Award: 2012
Depositing User: Dr Carin Ferris Runciman
Unique ID: glathesis:2012-3706
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2012
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:09

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year