Social Indicators Research

, Volume 141, Issue 2, pp 791–808 | Cite as

What Drives Citizen Participation in Political Gatherings in Modern South Africa? A Quantitative Analysis of Self-Reported Behaviour

  • Steven GordonEmail author
  • Jarè Struwig
  • Benjamin Roberts
  • Ngqapheli Mchunu
  • Samela Mtyingizane
  • Thobeka Radebe


Community and public gatherings are an important component of political participation in sub-Saharan Africa. Formal and informal community meetings and rallies are instrumental to the practice of politics in many parts of the continent. However, little multidimensional research has focused on the drivers of this form of political participation in an African context. This study will examine determinants of participation using South African data from the nationally representative 2015 voter participation survey. Despite its unique history of colonialism, South Africa represents a microcosm of major trends in African politics. Our results show that cognitive awareness of politics is the main determinant of participation in political gatherings. Attitudes towards municipal performance also had a statistically significant impact on the behaviour of this kind. The effects of education and economic status were found to be contrary to theoretical expectations. The implications of our findings for research into collective forms of political participation are discussed in the conclusion.


Political participation South Africa Cognitive awareness Political gatherings Local government 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Gordon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jarè Struwig
    • 2
  • Benjamin Roberts
    • 1
  • Ngqapheli Mchunu
    • 1
  • Samela Mtyingizane
    • 1
  • Thobeka Radebe
    • 1
  1. 1.Democracy Governance and Service Delivery Research ProgrammeHuman Sciences Research Council (HSRC)DurbanSouth Africa
  2. 2.Democracy Governance and Service Delivery Research ProgrammeHuman Sciences Research Council (HSRC)PretoriaSouth Africa

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