The Everyday at Grassroots level: poverty, protest and social change in post-apartheid South Africa
Williams, John J.
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This paper posits that social change derives from how the everyday is encountered, analyzed and experienced at the grassroots level. Drawing extensively from the seminal work of Henri Lefebvre, the paper argues that for ordinary people in post-apartheid South Africa, the everyday is often an instantiation of multiple contradictions, tensions, conflicts and struggles as the promises of a “better life for all”, the mantra of the Mbeki government, would appear to remain largely rhetorical as evidenced by the increasing levels of homelessness and unemployment since the creation of the democratic State in 1994. The failure to substantively improve the everyday reality experienced by the poor, homeless and unemployed, has given rise throughout the country, especially from 2004 to 2009, to massive protests by communities against local authorities (municipalities). The paper concludes by considering the question whether or not this type of community discontent could serve to transform the everyday into a more equitable and democratic dispensation at the grassroots level.