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04 Sep 2017

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Popular Politics in South African Cities: Unpacking Community Participation

Popular Politics in SA Cities

Edited by Claire Benit-Gbaffou (HSRC Press, 2015)

Community meetings seldom lead to significant change in urban policies, and have been accused of being sterile, sedative, or manipulative. This book starts from a simple question: why do people then continue to participate in these meetings, sometimes massively, and on a regular basis? Authors from a variety of disciplines explore the multiple roles of these ‘invited’ spaces of participation. From consolidation of individual social status and networks, to the construction and framing of the local ‘community’, the display of political or group loyalties and maintenance of clientelist exchange, access to information, rumors or gossip but also forms of education on who and what is the state, invited spaces of participation are also, crucially, places of emergence of collective awareness, through shared expressions of frustration, that can lead to political mobilisation and other, less institutionalised forms of participation.

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