A Presumed Equality: The Relationship Between State and Citizens in Post-Apartheid South Africa

A Presumed Equality: The Relationship Between State and Citizens in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Author: 
Brown, Julian
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis
Date published: 
2013
Record type: 
Responsibility: 
Wilson, Stuart, jt. author
Journal Title: 
African Studies
Source: 
African Studies, Vol. 72, No. 1, April 2013, pp. 86-106
Abstract: 

This article uses a dispute between a school and the state in contemporary South Africa to examine the complex nature of the relationship between that state and its citizens. It argues that this relationship is best understood as a set of shifting arrangements of authority between bureaucratic institutions, political personalities, the judiciary and, most significantly, South Africa's citizens themselves. We suggest that traditional models of the state have underestimated the agency of ordinary citizens and that the dispute we examine reveals how their actions – made possible by the presumption of their equality with the state and its agents – can influence the development of a local or national political order. This article draws upon the detailed documents prepared for the court case that arose from this dispute, as well as upon more recent interviews with teachers at the school. It is influenced by the philosophy of Jacques Rancière, and attempts to interpret his arguments about the nature of politics and equality through a South African experience.

Language: 
Country focus: 

CITATION: Brown, Julian. A Presumed Equality: The Relationship Between State and Citizens in Post-Apartheid South Africa . : Taylor & Francis , 2013. African Studies, Vol. 72, No. 1, April 2013, pp. 86-106 - Available at: http://library.au.int/presumed-equality-relationship-between-state-and-citizens-post-apartheid-south-africa-4