Democracy’s Embedded Paradoxes: Are Violent Protests the New Discourse?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


South Africans value their institutions of trust, perceiving them as the protectors and guarantors of the collective good. Combined within the frameworks of laws, anti-poverty programs and democratic mechanisms government’s commitment to the peoples’ needs indicated a commitment to address inequality and accelerate service delivery. However, South Africa’s post-Apartheid landscape remains volatile. Centuries of oppression and racial segregation firmly entrenched inequality and violence, negatively affecting its democratic ethos and economic prosperity. Once paraded as an example for its ‘sensational process of democratisation’ (Bertelsmann Transformation Index, 2003, p.1), SA is now brandished as a ‘failed state’ (Cartwright, 2015, p.1), embedding ‘violent democracy’ (von Holdt, 2014, p.129) and ‘racial economic inequality’ (Kangarlou, 2013, p. 1).

The social environment of politics affirms Social Self-Defence’s (where the social self is transforming into a social self-defence mechanism) place within South Africa’s socio-political landscape. The increase of service delivery protests confirm that top-down leadership and municipal management are ineffective, primarily failing to accommodate their constituencies’ needs and operationalising policies. Debt traps and aloof councilors furthermore diminishes political trust. With 32% of municipalities categorized as dysfunctional, it is clear that democracy’s foot soldiers have failed and that the lies of democracy continue to increase.

Can these embedded paradoxes result in South Africa spiraling out of control, cementing protests and violence as the new discourse? Or will Social Self-Defence serve as the democracy barometer, redirecting leaders towards stability, trust and substantive democracy?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProtests and Riots: Past, Present and Future Perspectives
EditorsAlice Pichette
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781536130362
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • protests
  • violence
  • democracy
  • paradox theories
  • Social Self-Defence
  • debt
  • trust
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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