Sociology Seminar 12 October 2011

Carin Runciman (University of Glasgow)
The Meanings of Mobilisation: Popular Politics and Resistance Movements in Post Apartheid South Africa
4.30pm, Room 916, Adam Smith Building

Social movement activism occurs in spaces and places which are beset with the multiple and messy contradictions of life.  However, scholarly accounts of movements often sanitise their accounts of internal movement conflict and contradiction, often basing their analysis upon the accounts of the movement leadership or ‘model’ members and excluding the often paradoxical or confused voices of grassroots activists. This often leads to social movements being discussed as if they are always unified and coherent actors.   In this paper I will present an analysis of the Anti Privatisation Forum (APF), the largest social movement to have emerged in the post apartheid period, which has sought to resist and oppose the neoliberal development framework of the ANC led government.  This paper will go beyond the coherent narratives of the movement leadership or official movement documents to consider how grassroots activists understand both the movement and their own activism.  From this analysis a picture of the political identity of the APF from the perspective of grassroots activists will begin to emerge which challenges conventional understandings of social movement activism.  Through analysing the APF from the perspective of grassroots activists I will discuss one of the central challenges facing the APF: the continued loyalty within the grassroots base of the movement to the ANC in spite of often militant protest against their policies, and the implications of this on the counter-hegemonic potential of the APF will be discussed.

All Welcome

Supported by the McFie Bequest

Any enquiries about the seminar programme should be addressed to:
Dr Kirsteen Paton, Sociology, Adam Smith Building, University of Glasgow G12 8RT
Tel: 0141 330 5070 or email:

First published: 4 November 2011