Claiming Community: Government, Township politics, and the Specter of Crime

Steffen Bo Jensen

    Research output: Working paperResearch

    Abstract

    As its point of departure this working paper takes the multitude of different uses and meanings of the concept of community in local politics in Cape Town. Instead of attempting to define it in substantive terms, the paper takes a social constructivist approach to the study of community and explores how different meanings of the term become the focal points for political power struggles around identity and resources in Cape Town. Empirically, the paper focuses on two groups within the Cape Town polity: local level state representatives within city council and local residents involved in what is termed community work. First, the paper explores how community has become a governmental strategy, employed by the apartheid regime as well, although in different ways, as post-apartheid local government. Secondly, the paper explores the ways in which community becomes the means in which local residents lay claim on the state, as well as how it enters into local power struggles between different political groups within the township. In the third part, the paper explores how the meanings of community and the struggles to realise it have changed as South Africa, nationally and locally, has become increasingly occupied with crime and violence. The paper concludes that this change fundamentally has transformed the political room for manoeuvre among state representatives and township residents alike, and that the onus of blame for the failure to realise a truly non-racial, democratic and developed South Africa no longer lies on the state and its institutions but has shifted to township residents, affecting their possibilities to emerge as politically moral subjects
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationCopenhagen
    PublisherInstitut for Internationale Studier / Dansk Center for Internationale Studier og Menneskerettigheder
    Number of pages26
    ISBN (Print)87-90681-90-8
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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