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Political Identity and Social Change

The Remaking of the South African Social Order

Jamie Frueh, Nicholas Onuf

Publication Year: 2003

Political Identity and Social Change builds upon the constructivist theory of political identity to explore the social changes that accompanied the end of apartheid in South Africa. To gain a better understanding of how structures of identity changed along with the rest of South Africa’s institutions, Frueh analyzes three social and political conflicts: the Soweto uprisings of 1976, the reformist constitutional debates of 1983–1984, and post-apartheid crime. Analyzing these conflicts demonstrates how identity labels function as structures of social discourse, how social activity is organized through these structures, and how both the labels and their power have changed during the course of South Africa’s transition. In this way, the book contributes not only to the study of South African society, but also provides lessons about the relationship between identity and social change.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

One of the first things a wise man told me was that finishing a project like this required two things, passion and discipline. As I readily admit (and my family and friends will certainly attest), this project was finished almost in spite of the latter requirement. But I have had an abundance of the former: passion about the identity ideas, passion about the teaching career that this research helped launch, ...

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pp. xiii-xvii

The way of talking about global politics that we have come to call constructivism arose in the 1980s—before the Berlin Wall came down, the Cold War ended, and South Africans remade themselves and thrilled the world by dismantling apartheid. So dramatic were these changes, so extraordinary were they in speed and scale, that they shook the modern world to its very foundations. This familiar ...

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Chapter One: Introduction

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pp. 1-7

It was autumn in the southern hemisphere when an unexpected victory in all- White national parliamentary elections swept South Africa’s National Party (NP) to power in 1948. The victory signaled the consolidation of the Afrikaner ethnic identity and facilitated the implementation of a series of racist laws that became known to the world as apartheid. These laws provided the pattern for a social fabric, woven by ...

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Chapter Two: A Theory of Political Identity

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pp. 9-38

Literally, the word context refers to pieces of text—a word or a sentence or larger blocks like a chapter or even whole manuscripts—that surround or are related to another, presumably more important piece. It is text that is deemed important for helping to find meaning in the segment being analyzed. Each text, including this one, is surrounded by others that influence how both the author ...

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Chapter Three: South Africa and Identity

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pp. 39-63

The rise and fall of apartheid is one of the most compelling stories of twentieth century politics. The moral simplicity and practical complexity of the South African problem captured the imagination of individuals around the world, making apartheid a global issue. When social change came through largely peaceful negotiations rather than the cataclysmic violence that even the most optimistic analysts ...

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Chapter Four: Soweto 1976

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pp. 65-93

Following the election of Nelson Mandela as State President of the Republic of South Africa in 1994, the sixteenth of June was declared an official state holiday— National Youth Day. Over the previous eighteen years, June 16 had become an unofficial holiday for Blacks, a day dedicated to commemorating the sacrifices of the struggle against apartheid as symbolized in the 1976 police ...

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Chapter Five: Constitutional Reform, 1983–1984

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pp. 95-131

If the South African social order is understood as a body in motion, rolling through time, then the Soweto uprising altered its momentum, changing both its bearing and its inertial force. While the revolt posed no real danger to the continuance of the state, which maintained both control over the apparatus of material production and a virtual monopoly on the use of force, Soweto did create ...

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Chapter Six: Post-Apartheid Crime

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pp. 133-167

While contemporary South African crime certainly carries the baggage of apartheid, in this chapter it is cast predominantly as a conflict about order in the New South Africa. As apartheid was dismantled, order declined significantly. Simply in the course of daily life, South Africans found more and more contexts in which no widely accepted patterns or procedures existed to guide their social ...

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Chapter Seven: Identity and the Transition

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pp. 169-184

The transformation of a social order is an overwhelmingly complex phenomenon. While this complexity makes it nearly impossible to study the South African transition as a whole, it does make it amenable to analysis from a wide variety of perspectives. Indeed, the demise of apartheid has been studied from the viewpoint of Marxist classes, neoliberal economics, constitutional politics, elections, ethnicity, ...


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pp. 185-214


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pp. 215-229


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pp. 231-236

E-ISBN-13: 9780791487754
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791455470
Print-ISBN-10: 0791455475

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2003

OCLC Number: 55753801
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Political Identity and Social Change

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Constructivism (Philosophy).
  • Group identity -- South Africa.
  • South Africa -- Social conditions -- 1994-.
  • Social change -- South Africa.
  • South Africa -- Politics and government -- 1994-.
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