The Development of Strategic Thought in South Africa’s Civic Movements, 1977–1990

Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


This chapter is concerned with one aspect of the recent history of civic organization in South Africa: the development of a distinctively civic strategy, that is a conscious strategy of mobilizing and organizing around civic issues to achieve broader goals. South Africa has a long history of civic-type organizations employing a range of tactics around civic issues, but only in the 1980s were civic struggles so clearly and widely understood in terms of a broad and often explicit strategy. Protests against rent increases or the demolition of shacks were not simply concerned with stopping these particular grievances. Rather, civic leaders understood action around civic issues in terms of a broader strategic framework, with the goal of effecting fundamental shifts in patterns of political mobilization and, ultimately, the transformation of the political system and urban political economy. From a different perspective, therefore, civic struggles represented one strategy employed in broader struggles for change.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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