Neighbourhood Politics in Transition: Residents’ Associations and Local Government in Post-Apartheid Cape Town

This study focuses on the changing practices of South African residents’ associations and their relationship with political parties and local government from 1990 to 2006, with the aim to examine how associations in Cape Town respond when they are confronted with a new democratic institutional and political context.Two empirical questions guide the analysis: How do residents’ associations perceive that the changing political context has affected them in their attempts to influence agenda-setting and decision-making? And how can we understand the process in which they decide to act, or not act, in response to important changes in their political environment? Drawing on social movement theory, most importantly the notions of political opportunity structures and framing processes, an analysis is made of the most significant changes in Cape Town’s post-apartheid institutional and political context. The empirical findings – based on questionnaires, interviews and an in-depth study of the township of Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay – show that associations in socio-economically distinct areas have different perceptions of their prospects of affecting agenda-setting and decision-making…


1. A study of neighbourhood politics in Cape Town: introduction
Aim and contributions
Specifying the research problem: why residents’ associations?
The structure of the thesis
2. How to conceptualise civil society–state relations: theoretical and analytical framework
Institutionalised versus non-institutionalised politics and organisations
Specifying the political context: the political opportunity structure framework
Political opportunity structures and democratisation
The link between context and practice: framing processes
Specifying the practices of neighbourhood associations
Summarising the analytical framework
3. Methodological considerations
Case selection and research design
To search for mechanisms: the method of process tracing
Measuring change in the political opportunity structure
Material and data
4. From apartheid to democracy: a local political opportunity structure in transition
Cape Town and South Africa
The apartheid years: a political opportunity structure of racial segregation
Liberalisation and the transition to democracy
The political opportunity structure in democratic Cape Town
The institutional and legal structure – towards a more open decision-making process
The political power structure – shifting political alignments
Cape Town’s changing political opportunity structure: summary
5. The political opportunity structure of residents’ associations in Cape Town
Civil society and residents’ associations in a historical perspective
Residents’ associations in democratic Cape Town
The case of Langa
The case of Rondebosch
Comparing the political opportunity structure of Langa and Rondebosch
The political opportunity structure of residents’ associations in Cape
Town: concluding summary
6. A process study of Hout Bay and Imizamo Yethu
The case of Hout Bay – an anomaly?
The conflict in brief and the main actors
Opening up political access: signs of liberalisation and the transition to democracy, 1990–1996
The early years of local democracy: an NP-controlled Cape
Metropolitan Council, 1996–2000
Change of power in the new Unicity: the DA, 2000–2002
Power shift without elections: the ANC-NNP alliance, 2002–2004
Absolute majority on the City Council: ANC, 2004–2006
Local elections and the return of the DA: 2006
The process study of Hout Bay and Imizamo Yethu: concluding overview and discussion
7. Neighbourhood politics in transition: summary and conclusions
Summary of the main empirical results
Applying the notions of political opportunity structures and framing processes in a South African local context
The dilemma of pluralist new democracies revisited
Epilogue: Hout Bay beyond 2006
Appendix 1. List of associations responding to the civic surveys 1996
and 2004

Author: Monaco, Sara

Source: Uppsala University Library

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