Attitudes regarding protest action in South Africa

  • 0


Protests are common in South Africa and have increased in number and intensity of violence over the past decade. It is therefore important to examine the phenomenon. For the purpose of this study, protest is defined as a local, collective, emotional, non-institutional and government-directed action used to express an experience of unhappiness over the state of affairs. Much has been written about protests in South Africa, but variables that contribute to attitudes towards peaceful protest action and violent protest action respectively have not yet been investigated. The purpose of this study is to investigate the significance of the relationship between a number of selected attitude-related variables and attitudes towards peaceful and violent protest action by means of a secondary analysis. The study is based on the Human Sciences Research Council’s South African Social Attitudes Survey conducted between 17 January and 31 March 2017. The survey generated a multi-stage random sample of 3 079 South Africans. Only one other study has used this survey to analyse the attitudes towards protest action, while it focused on biographical variables. In the present study the data set was statistically analysed secondarily on the basis of selected attitude variables. First, descriptive statistics were extracted for the chosen variables by using SPSS. Thereafter Spearman’s correlation or ANOVA was used to determine the relationship of the variables with the attitudes towards peaceful protest action and violent protest action respectively. Stepwise regression was then used on selected variables to determine predictors for attitudes towards peaceful and violent protest action. The data analysis demonstrated that most South Africans, namely 57%, view peaceful protest action positively. In contrast, South Africans are quite negative about violent protest action. Only 9% are positive about it. In addition, it was found that the factors that may be predictors of attitudes towards peaceful protest action differ significantly from those for attitudes towards violent protest action. For positive attitudes about peaceful protest action the best predictors are the view that income disparities in South Africa are too great; mistrust in the national government; and that communities should regulate their own security. It seems, therefore, that income inequality, concomitant with the view that the national government is accountable for addressing it, contributes to attitudes towards peaceful protest action. When these are combined with a feeling that the community should take responsibility for itself, attitudes towards peaceful protest can be expected. In contrast, the positive attitudes towards violent protest action had as predictors those who voted for the African National Congress or Economic Freedom Fighters in the 2014 national election; the view that black South Africans should demand restitution; the view that income differences are not too great; youth; the view that voting does not make a difference; those who are dissatisfied with life as a whole; and satisfaction with the economic situation. It seems that attitudes towards violent protest action seem to be fuelled by a Marxist revolutionary view. The two attitudes, namely that income differences are not too great and satisfaction with the economic situation in South Africa, are difficult to reconcile with a positive attitude towards violent protest action, which demonstrates the need for further investigation on this matter. Intriguingly, a number of variables that were expected to relate to attitudes on protest action did not, in fact, feature. For instance, satisfaction with life; race-related issues; perspectives on local government; and restitution, own socio-economic status and religion did not predict attitudes towards peaceful protest action. In the case of attitudes towards violent protest action, expected variables such as attitudes towards race, local government, police, own socio-economic status and religion were not prominent. The study reflects on some of these anomalies.

Furthermore, the findings serve to demonstrates the complexity of these contributing factors. Protest in all its variations cannot be explained by an unambiguous narrative. The article points out that the findings support certain knowledge statements about protest, while contradicting others and giving rise to unique insights. The uniqueness and contribution of this study are that it clarifies the nature of the differences in attitudes about peaceful and violent protest action as well as the factors that may contribute to each.

Keywords: attitudes; citizenship; community issues; economic issues; grievances; local government; national government; peaceful protest; political issues; poverty; protest; race issues; religion; violent protest


Lees die volledige artikel in Afrikaans

Houdings in verband met protesaksie in Suid-Afrika

  • 0


Jou e-posadres sal nie gepubliseer word nie. Kommentaar is onderhewig aan moderering.