CCS
CCS Events
CCS Libraries
About CCS
CCS Projects
BRICS
CCS Highlights


Publication Details

Reference
Hassim, Shireen  (2004) Voices, Hierarchies and Spaces: Reconfiguring the Women’s Movement in Democratic South Africa. A case study for the UKZN project entitled: Globalisation, Marginalisation and New Social Movements in post-Apartheid South Africa : 1-24.

Summary
Transitions to democracy do not only result in a re-shaping of the formal institutions of the state. They also have the potential to radically alter the relationship between the state, political parties and social movements. From the perspective of relatively weak women’s movements, such as in South Africa, these relationships to state, parties and other social movements are crucial in delimiting political possibilities and shaping ideologies and strategies for change. Changes in what social movement theorists refer to as political opportunity structures and universes of political discourse thus have profound impacts on the nature of gender politics. In examining the South African women’s movement, this paper seeks to understand what strategies have been employed by women’s organisations to negotiate power vis-à-vis the state and other social movements, how these strategies have been shaped by the context of democracy, and what kinds of equality outcomes can be claimed as the product of women’s activism. Although the paper is most concerned with the period since 1994, it locates the contemporary women’s movement in the context of its emergence during the early 1980s.

This paper argues that the South African women’s movement must be understood as made up of heterogeneous organisations, rather than being viewed through the lens of a single organisation. It seeks to examine the extent to which this heterogeneous movement is able to ensure that the gains made in the transitional period of the early 1990s, when the post-apartheid state was designed, will be made real. This assessment of the women’s movements is made against a particular definition of a ‘strong’ social movement. A strong social movement has the capacity to articulate the particular interests of its constituencies, to mobilise those constituencies in defence of those interests, and is able to develop independent strategies to achieve its aims while holding open the possibilities of alliance with other progressive movements. This definition suggests that a strong social movement requires a degree of political autonomy in order to retain its relative power within any alliance. In addition to these organisational capabilities, the ideological influences of feminism are vital in building robust women’s movements. A long term view of the South Africa women’s movement against this definition of movement strength suggests that the movement is relatively weak, apart from a brief moment in the early 1990s.

The argument proceeds by firstly outlining the theoretical and strategic debates relating to definitions of the term ‘women’s movement’ in the South African context. I then sketch the interests, strategies and forms of the women’s movement as these emerged during the 1980s and in the period of transition to democracy in the early 1990s. In the third section of the paper, I map the current terrain of the women’s movement, identifying and classifying different forms of organisation and strategy. The paper concludes by addressing the relationships between social movements, the democratic state and the women’s movement, examining in particular the impact of the institutionalisation of gender on the women’s movement.

Read Publication 
 cast your net a little wider...
 Radical Philosophy 
 AFRICAN ENVIROMENTAL JUSTICE DOCUMENTARY FILMS 
 African Studies Association (USA)  
 New Dawn Engineering 
 Wikipedia 
 Indymedia Radio 
 Southern Africa Report online 
 Online Anti Apartheid Periodicals, 1960 - 1994 
 Autonomy & Solidarity 
 New Formulation 
 We Write 
 International Journal of Socialist Renewal 
 Theoria 
 Journal of African Philosophy 
 British Library for Development Studies 
 The Nordic Africa Institute Online Library 
 Political Economy Research Institute Bulletin (PERI) 
 Feminist Africa 
 Jacques Depelchin's Tribute to Harold Wolpe 
 Chimurenga 
 African Studies Quarterly 
 The Industrial Workers of the World 
 Anarchist Archives 
 Wholewheat Radio 
 Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa  
 Zanon Workers 
 Public Citizen  
 Open Directory Project 
 Big noise films 
 London Review of Books  
 New York Review of Books 
 Monthly Review 
 New Left Review 
 Bureau of Public Secrets  
 Zed Books 
 Pluto Press 
 Duke University Press  
 Abe Books 
 The Electric Book Company 
 Project Guttenberg 
 Newspeak Dictionary 
 Feral Script Kiddies 
 Go Open Source 
 Source Forge 
 www.kiarchive.ru 
 Ubuntu Linux Home Page 
 Software for Apple Computers 



|  Contact Information  |  Terms of Use  |  Privacy