South africa's transition to democracy and the 'change industry': A case study of idasa

Ian Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Polyarchical forms of democracy are not about promoting democratic input into the everyday life of citizens, but rather have become a useful mechanism to soothe social and political pressures, creating a state of 'low-intensity democracy'. Struggles for popular democracy are profound threats to established elites. In many 'democratic transitions', these threats have been dissipated by the promotion of polyarchy as the new dispensation. What has occurred in contentious transitions such as South Africa, has been an attempt to construct hegemony via a reformulation of the mode of political rule: from the overtly coercive (such as apartheid) to a more consensual-based order. The result has been to pre-empt fundamental economic change. During the South African transition, various actors within civil society, characterised as the 'change industry', (such as IDASA) made important interventions in the debate on what democracy was to be in a post-apartheid dispensation. Their work helped convert the mass organisations away from popular democracy and towards more formal and procedural models of democratic governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-48
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2002


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