Civil Society and the Politics of Belonging in Southern Africa

  • Daniel HammettEmail author
Part of the Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies book series (NCSS, volume 20)


Civil society has emerged as a core feature of academic, activist and donor debates and agendas in relation to development and democracy in the global south. Despite—or even because of—the prominence of support for civil society in many spheres, the definition of this concept has evolved and remains widely contested. Championed on the one hand as a crucial component of democracy, and derided on the other as a Western theoretical irrelevance, civil society nonetheless remains a powerful idea in academic analysis and everyday life in southern Africa. This chapter reflects upon the struggles surrounding civil society in southern Africa, unpacking the conceptual concerns and discussions relating to it before examining how, in various guises, civil society has been implicated in contestations of the politics of belonging in southern African states. In particular, examples of (un)civil society from South Africa and Zimbabwe are developed to explore the role of civil society in citizen-claims making and the mobilisation of civic engagement.


Civil Society Public Sphere Civil Society Organisation Political Engagement African National Congress 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa

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