The Black Sash : assessment of a South African political interest group

Wenhold, Marece (2005-12)

Thesis (MPhil (Political Science ))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


This research report is an assessment of a South African political interest group. The interest group under investigation is the Black Sash (a non-governmental humanrights organization). The Black Sash is an organization with a rich heritage which dates back to 1955. The year 2005 commemorated the organization’s 50th jubilee. This event together, with the contemporary relevance of the Millennium Development Goals, contributes to the significance of the case study under investigation. The research report explains how the organization forms part of the interest group society as it started out as a pressure group and then altered itself into becoming a civil society organization during the 1990s. This research report is divided into three equally important parts which jointly contribute to an opinion on whether interest groups of the 21st century are maintaining the status quo or not. The first part is on theory, the second on description and the third on analysis. The part on theory gives a substantial synopsis of the current stance of literature on various facets of the operation of interest groups. The part on description gives a descriptive summary of the history and current characteristics of the Black Sash. The part on analysis investigates the development of the Black Sash until now with a focus on significant drivers of change. This research report found that the Black Sash – as representative of a 21st century interest group – is not maintaining the status quo. The available theory on interest groups is not sufficient to conduct impact assessments and might be presented as a reason for the serious lack of impact assessments at present. This finding implicates that the current available theory is in need of modification. Areas which lack theorizing in total, as well as areas which need further study are specifically revealed. A recommendation is put forward that new explanations and even a new vocabulary are required in these specified areas. A contribution such as the supplementation of existing theory on interest groups will enable impact assessments which will alter the way in which the relationship between these groups and public policy are understood.

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