South Africa’s Suspended Revolution

Hopes and Prospects
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Dimensions and Pages: 215 x 130mm, 320pp
  • EAN: 9781868146086
  • Rights: Africa
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 290.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): n/a

Buiding on a full career of scholarship, fieldwork and public commentary, Adam Habib breaks new ground in our understanding of the complex political, economic and historical forces that will continue to  shape the destiny of Africa’s most important power for the next decades. South Africa’s Suspended Revolution is at once both a rewarding study and a brilliant effort at systematic conceptualization in social theory.

— Achille Mbembe, WISER, author of Sortir de la grande nuit (2010) and On the Postcolony (2001)

This is a readable, well-informed and perceptive account of the political economy of contemporary South Africa. Although he is clear-eyed about the inequality and poverty that mar the social terrain and the factionalism, corruption and greed that currently affect elite politics, Habib makes a case for specific forms of political leadership, for an active citizenry, and for the possibility of social pacts as paths towards an alternative political agenda.
— Colin Bundy, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford

 

South Africa’s Suspended Revolution engages with the country’s transition into democracy and its prospects for inclusive development. It is an antidote to many descriptive and voluntarist explanations in which leaders and other actors are treated as unfettered agents whose choices and behaviour are merely the result of their own abilities or follies. In contrast, Adam Habib explains the story of how South Africa arrived at this point by locating these actors in context. He tries to understand the institutional constraints within which they operated, why they made the choices they did, and what the consequences are. The book also explores what other policy options and behavioural choices may have been available, and why these were forsaken for the ones that were eventually adopted.

In essence, the book is about how South Africa got to its present state of affairs, what the country’s current challenges are, and how these could be transcended. It is deeply historical in the sense of understanding what possibilities may have existed in one moment, but not another. The narrative recognises that societies evolve and as a result the potential for political and socioeconomic advances themselves change.

This then is a story of the dynamic interplay between actors and context, how the latter can constrain and condition the former, but also how individuals and institutions can, with imagination, act against the grain of their location and historical moment, thereby transforming the possibilities and, through them, society itself.

Rights: World except North America, UK and Europe

Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Governance, political accountability and service delivery
Chapter 3. The political economy of development
Chapter 4. The viability of a sustainable social pact
Chapter 5. The evolution of state–civil society relations
Chapter 6. South Africa and the world
Chapter 7. What is to be done?
Chapter 8. Reinterpreting democratic and development experiences

Adam Habib is Vice-chancellor and Principal of the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He has held academic appointments at the University of Durban-Westville, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (where he was founding director of the Centre for Civil Society), the University of Johannesburg and the Human Sciences Research Council. Habib is widely recognised as one of the more authoritative commentators on South Africa’s democracy and its prospects for inclusive development.

Buiding on a full career of scholarship, fieldwork and public commentary, Adam Habib breaks new ground in our understanding of the complex political, economic and historical forces that will continue to  shape the destiny of Africa’s most important power for the next decades. South Africa’s Suspended Revolution is at once both a rewarding study and a brilliant effort at systematic conceptualization in social theory.

— Achille Mbembe, WISER, author of Sortir de la grande nuit (2010) and On the Postcolony (2001)

This is a readable, well-informed and perceptive account of the political economy of contemporary South Africa. Although he is clear-eyed about the inequality and poverty that mar the social terrain and the factionalism, corruption and greed that currently affect elite politics, Habib makes a case for specific forms of political leadership, for an active citizenry, and for the possibility of social pacts as paths towards an alternative political agenda.
— Colin Bundy, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford

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