Project Description

Social Protest and Youth in South Africa’s Democracy

Tasneem Essop

Tasneem is a scholar and activist in Johannesburg. Tasneem is based at the Society, Work and Politics Institute as an assistant researcher. She is currently a PhD candidate in Political Studies and is a Transforming the Humanities through Interdisciplinary Studies Fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand. She holds a Masters in Political Studies, during which her research focused on the South African political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, branch politics, and populism.

Social Protest and Youth in South Africa’s Democracy


This project will explore how protests, in particular the sessions of community protests, link to ideas of democratic participation, both within and beyond the question of elections, and how these impact on elections and voting. In addition, given that it is often posited that young people are at the core of these protests and popular movements, the project will explore the mechanisms for political participation for the youth, and how the idea of ‘the youth’ can be re-examined within South Africa’s democratic political system in ways that place emphasis on their political engagements, with different political goals and interests. It will explore questions of participation, the meanings of participation in a democracy, who participates, and through which mechanisms in a developing and contested democratic space.