A Turbulent South Africa

Post-apartheid Social Protest

By Jérôme Tournadre
Translated by Andrew Brown

Subjects: Political Science, Postcolonial Studies, Social Problems, Social Movements, African Studies
Hardcover : 9781438469775, 294 pages, March 2018
Paperback : 9781438469768, 294 pages, January 2019

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Table of contents

List of Abbreviations

1. The Return of the “Time of Demonstrations”

2. “Ordinary People?”

3. “Our rights are for sale!”

4. Specificities of the Post-apartheid Social Protest

5. Social Movements against the ANC?

6. An Intermediate Political Space?


Highlights the continuing social unrest and public protest occurring in South Africa’s poorest districts.


Frequently praised for its democratic transition, South Africa has experienced an almost uninterrupted cycle of social protest since the late 1990s. There have been increasing numbers of demonstrations against the often appalling living conditions of millions of South Africans, pointing to the fact that they have yet to achieve full citizenship. A Turbulent South Africa offers a new look at this historic period in the existence of the young South African democracy, far removed from the idealistic portrait of the "Rainbow Nation." Jérôme Tournadre draws on interviews and observations to take the reader from the backstreets of the squatters' camps to international militant circles, and from the immediate, infra-political level to the worldwide anti-capitalist protest movement. He investigates the mechanisms and the meaning of social discontent in light of several different phenomena. These include, the struggle of the poor to gain recognition, the persistent memory of the fight against apartheid, the developments in the political world since the "Mandela Years," the coexistence of liberal democracy with a "popular politics" found in poor and working-class districts, and many other factors that have played a crucial part in the social and political tensions at the heart of post-apartheid South Africa.

Jérôme Tournadre is Researcher in Political Science at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and a member of CNRS's Institut des Sciences sociales du Politique, both located in France.


"The analysis in A Turbulent South Africa is impressive, offering nuance and complexity rather than oversimplification. Tournadre clearly took time to enter and understand the worlds of movement leaders, and he nicely conveys this world to the reader." — Mobilization