Outspoken author and commentator Stephen Friedman at Great Texts

Political Scientist Steven Friedman talks about Freedom for the Few: Ending the Middle Class Monopoly on South African Democracy on Thursday 11 October; as part of the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) Great Texts/Big Questions public lecture series.

“That South African democracy has survived nearly two decades largely intact has confounded predictions and needs explaining. The chief reason lies in the persistence, post-1994, of strong concentrations of private power, which have checked authoritarian impulses in government. While this has ensured democracy’s survival, it has also ensured that its defense has largely been mounted in the language of white, middle class, suburbia – and that freedom is largely seen as the protection of the economic and cultural domination of the few” comments Friedman.

Democracy is clearly too important to be left to so narrow a support base and the key challenge currently is to broaden the social base of support for democracy. An illustrative example of limits and possibilities is the experience of Cosatu, the largest organised interest group outside the middle class, which has played a role in defending democracy.  Friedman explores these ideas in his book Building Tomorrow Today - a study of the South African trade union movement and the implications of its growth for democracy.

Professor Steven Friedman is Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Rhodes University and the University of Johannesburg. He is a political scientist who has specialised in the study of democracy. He researched and wrote widely on the South African transition to democracy both before and after the elections of 1994 and has, over the past decade, largely written on the relationship between democracy on the one hand and social inequality and economic growth on the other; in particular, stressing the role of citizen voice in strengthening democracy and promoting equality.

He is also the editor of The Long Journey and The Small Miracle (with Doreen Atkinson), which presented the outcome of two research projects on the South African transition. He is currently studying the role of citizen action in strengthening and sustaining democracy.

This event will take place at Hiddingh Hall, University of Cape Town (UCT) Hiddingh Campus, Orange Street, Cape Town on Thursday 11 October 2012 at 17:30 and is free. Refreshments will be served from 17:00. No Booking is necessary. For more information on the Great Texts / Big Questions series, please contact 021 480 7156 or fin-gipca@uct.ac.za.