The politics of youth and violence in the townships of Johannesburg

by Frederik Johannus Kooijmans

Institution: University of Birmingham
Department: Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Year: 2015
Keywords: DT Africa; HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform; HT Communities. Classes. Races
Record ID: 1391437
Full text PDF: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5692/


The townships of Johannesburg developed as racially exclusive and deprived urban areas where many young people were directly exposed to the physical and systemic brutality of white minority rule in South Africa. This thesis demonstrates how these conditions proved fertile ground for some township youth to engage in violent confrontations with the state and within their communities. Physical violence proved for some township youth to be a necessary reaction to provocation or a method to claim masculine status and gain self-determination within their immediate environment and on a national scale. The author does not aim to provide justifications for youth violence or give explanations of individual motives, however emphasis will be placed on exploring risk factors and complexities of criminal and political violence in the townships of Johannesburg. The analysis of youth involvement in violence as victims and perpetrators prior to and during apartheid sheds light on continuities and differences of the politics and repertoires of violence in the urban landscapes of democratic South Africa. The author draws modern occurrences of youth violence in townships into a historical perspective and diffuses claims that current young generations of township dwellers are more aggressive and occupied with non-political struggles.