Masters Degrees (Political Science)

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    Towards a pluralistic account of gangs: Perspectives from Sub-Saharan Africa
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-03 ) Meek, Stephanie Angela; Lamb, Guy; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Political Science.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: There is no universally accepted definition of a gang. Conceptual ambiguity underlies the study of gangs, and as such, there is little consensus on what a gang is or what its core features entail. Furthermore, most of the literature on gangs is derived from Western contexts, predominantly North America and Europe. The field of research on gangs in Africa is markedly understudied. Gangs on the continent are responsible for high levels of violence, exhibit connections to transnational organised crime, and play a significant role in political processes and state corruption, highlighting the importance of studying these groups. There is, however, a distinct lack of information on the operations, size, and structure of gangs on the continent. The nature of the relationships between gangs and the state, as well as between gangs and society in the African context, are also not explored in great depth. This brings into question whether the dominant existing literature can adequately account for gangs in Africa, or whether a more nuanced perspective is required to understand these groups. This thesis aims to address this concern, by investigating why gangs in Africa are distinctive from those in the Global North, which involves examining their essential characteristics. Sub-Saharan Africa is selected as the geographical region in which this analysis takes place, and the research is informed by case studies based on the operations of gangs in major cities in South Africa, Sierra Leone, Kenya, and Nigeria. The information gleaned from these case studies is used to construct a typology of gangs in Sub-Saharan Africa, to enhance knowledge of these groups. The gangs are categorised according to four features, namely their objectives, relationship with the state, relationship to society, and degree of institutionalisation. It is acknowledged that the strict categorisation of gangs into different types is often an ineffective pursuit, given the flexibility and dynamism of these groups, and the typology is in this sense perhaps better understood as a heuristic framework to help understand gangs in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, the analysis of gangs in the African context holds implications for the concept of the ‘gang’ as well as for its utility in accounting for gangs in non-Western settings. It is argued that a pluralistic account of gangs is necessary to make sense of these groups, with the understanding that these groups appear to defy definition and are dynamic rather than static. This entails that their capacity for transformation should be central to how they are conceptualised, which allows for the intersections and overlapping between different non-state armed groups, a feature that is important to incorporate in notions of how gangs operate in Sub-Saharan Africa. This study therefore endeavours to provide a foundation for further research by offering an examination of gangs that are not well-studied, evaluating why they are distinctive from ostensibly similar groups in the Global North, and re-assessing how they can be understood and conceptualised.
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    South Africa’s foreign policy consistencies and contradictions since 1994: A case study of soft power–soft disempowerment
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-03) MacLeod, Cristan Lee; Van der Westhuizen, Janis, 1969-; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Political Science.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In South Africa’s transition from an Apartheid pariah to an international good citizen, the considerable success of the use of soft power enabled the country to carve out a global foreign policy profile for itself. Over the course of 28 years, however, it appears the initial fanfare over South Africa’s transnational appeal has somewhat faded. By investigating the case study of South Africa’s foreign policy, consistencies, and contradictions since 1994, this study aims to demystify the country’s soft power successes or failures. This is done by adapting the soft power–soft disempowerment framework originally developed by Paul Brannagan and Richard Giulianotti (2018), in the case study of Qatar, to the South African context. The framework provides a novel approach to probing the under-researched phenomenon of the reversibility of soft power. In other words, the framework argues that soft power projects which intend to attract positive attention from international audiences can unintentionally also have negative ‘feedback’ effects and trigger negative attention, thus causing ‘soft disempowerment’. In exceptional cases, the appeal of the soft power message can overcome the negative scrutiny and instead result in a positive appeal being generated. In short, the framework seeks to highlight the dynamic change between soft power and soft disempowerment. To investigate this phenomenon, this research employs a qualitative desktop approach to examine three major themes within South Africa’s political, economic and cultural soft power. The first is the role of human rights in building the foundation of the country’s foreign policy approach. The second is the use of the ‘Gateway to Africa’ narrative to generate investment appeal, which claims international investment partners must go through South Africa to access the continent. The third is the use of sports mega-events such as the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 2003 Cricket World Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. To assess the intersection between these soft power messages, and whether a soft disempowerment has occurred, this research further weighs up issues that have presented challenges to South Africa’s attractive appeal. These include the backsliding on South Africa’s human rights-based foreign policy, using case studies that drew international backlash. The study also raises the issue of corruption such as Gupta Gate and the Nkandla saga, in which the international media’s attention to these issues caused negative perceptions of South Africa. Finally, the study examines the challenge of xenophobia’s impact on cultural soft power from 2008-2021. It explores how xenophobia diluted the ability for South Africa to win bids to host several sports mega-events, and the consequences of the laisse faire approach by South Africa’s government to managing the crisis that in 2019 resulted in the looting of South African owned fashion and entertainment businesses operating on the African continent.
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    The National Democratic Revolution: A ‘Utopian’ Blueprint for South Africa
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-12) Truter, Joshua; De Jager, Nicola; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Political Science.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The topic of utopian thought has seen a resurgence as a field of study, the vision of a perfect society being an alluring prospect for many. Using this ideal to guide one’s thoughts in an effort at self-improvement is harmless, but imposing a subjective definition of perfection upon others, however, is dangerous. The ANC’s guiding political project, the National Democratic Revolution, is a utopian aspiration. The way in which the party wishes to set about achieving its goals could have dire consequences for South Africa’s fragile democracy. This thesis intended to answer the question: Does the African National Congress (ANC) aim to achieve a totalitarian utopia through the blueprint of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR)? And as an ancillary question: How has Marxism influenced the ANC and does it remain influential as an ideology in the ANC, and has its form evolved? This investigation was undertaken through a case study design and qualitative research approach. Using Atlas.ti, key terms were coded and the party’s language in their strategy and tactics documents from 1969 to 2017 were analysed. The key terms were based on an understanding of the endpoint of utopias being totalitarianism (to answer the main research question) and on one of the three main ideological strands within the ANC, namely Marxism, which was anticipated to have influenced the ANC’s policy documents (to answer the secondary research questions). The findings revealed that although South Africa is not a totalitarian state, the ANC’s NDR can be considered a blueprint for a totalitarian utopia because it is aspirational. Significantly, the terms ‘societal leader’ and ‘transformation’ were most prevalent throughout the period analysed. These terms, commonly associated with totalitarian and utopian tendencies, imply that the ANC views itself as occupying a position higher than that of an ordinary political party in that it deems itself to possess the ability to transform society towards their definition of perfection. This deeply Marxist aspiration, as will become evident from the analysis, remains influential in the party. This prevalence of a multitude of anti-democratic tendencies does not bode well for the future of South Africa’s democracy. Simply because we no longer see rigidly totalitarian regimes does not mean their spirit has faded away completely.
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    Managing political risks: ISO 31000 risk management process as a risk mitigation tool a case study of the south African tourism industry
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-12) Oosthuizen, Alzet; Lambrechts, Derica; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Political Science.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Travel and tourism form an industry that is very susceptible to political risk events and factors, even more so now because of the recent Covid-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions. Tourism industries worldwide are trying to recover from the crippling effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the South African tourism industry is no exception. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought countless travel bans and harsh lockdowns, and the objective now is to attract foreign tourists and investments to help boost a crippled tourism sector. However, the presence of political risks, which were made worse by the pandemic, can hamper this recovery. Political risks cause major damage to a country’s reputation as an attractive investment and tourist destination, which can be detrimental to an industry that is trying to recover from a global pandemic. Therefore, it becomes necessary for tourism industries to forecast potential political risks and devise mitigation strategies to deal with them before they happen. The research question for the study therefore was concerned with how the tourism industry in South Africa can improve political risk mitigation in order to stimulate the growth of the industry and better prepare for turbulent times. To answer this question, the study used a six-step risk management process developed by the International Organization for Standardization as a tool for political risk mitigation in the case study of South Africa’s tourism industry. The six-step risk management process provides a practical framework in which the South African tourism industry can identify, analyse, measure, evaluate and treat political risks in the tourism context. The study found that the tourism industry cannot avoid political risks; instead, travel and tourism organisations should have strategies in place to minimise the likelihood of the risk occurring or to reduce the impact of the risk. This research study contributes to the literature on political risk management and mitigation in the tourism industry. In addition, this study also assists businesses operating within the South African tourism industry to improve their political risk preparedness and response.
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    The deconsolidation of a modern liberal democracy? The case of Hungary
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-03) Du Pisani, Tian; Steenekamp, C. L.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Political Science.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Hungary democratized from the late 1980s until its first free and fair elections in 1990; thereafter it democratically consolidated into a well-respected liberal democracy. However, in 2010 this liberal democratic trajectory shifted drastically, and the country has become a by-word for democratic malfunctioning. The reasons for the deconsolidation of an established liberal democracy is multifactorial and requires an understanding of how it is established and strengthened. The theories around democratic consolidation have expanded with each successive wave of democratisation in an effort to provide a framework from which to determine the roots of consolidation and its underlying processes (Huntington, 1991). Schedler (2001) in particular promulgated three foundations that constitute the basis for democratic consolidation: the behavioural foundation, the attitudinal foundation and the structural foundation. Schedler (1998; 2001) further conceptualised democratic consolidation as being rooted in the idea of security. Democratic consolidation can thus be viewed as the securing of a democracy against anti-democratic shocks and ensuring its long-term survival. Democratic deconsolidation, on the other hand, can best be understood as the transition away from democratic security and towards non-democratic forms of government (Schedler, 1998). By inversely using Schedler’s (2001) framework of consolidation and contextualising it with Huntington’s (1991) three waves of democratization, this study formulated an analytical framework which was applied to the case of Hungary in order to better understand the trend of deconsolidation in established liberal democracies. Using a two-phase approach, this study found that democracy in Hungary is indeed in regression according to macro-level data by V-Dem, The Economist Intelligence Unit, and Freedom House. An analysis of the macro-level indictors showed that the primary factors for this regression include the elimination of judicial independence at both the high and lower court levels, the centralization of power into the executive branch of government, electoral reform that solely benefits the current ruling party, elimination of independent media sources and a lack of accountability with respect to corruption.