The success of treatment action campaign : an analysis of the capacity of collective actors

by Emine Isciel

Institution: University of Oslo
Year: 1000
Keywords: VDP::240
Record ID: 1276173
Full text PDF: https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/14643



The point of departure for this study is the wide agreement of the institutionalization of more substantive forms of democracy through civil and political society activism. However, little is said and done in regards to how actors can promote the characteristics and qualities of democracy. The discourse is marked by a tendency to downplay questions of power relations and sources of capacity for different groups of citizens to participate, protest and organize for political change. This triggered the topic for this thesis which is the investigation of the capacity of collective actors utilize democratic spaces in the institutionalization of more substantive forms of democracy. This is done through a concrete case study of the political strategies and capacities of Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). Theoretically the thesis has synthesized factors emphasized in recent social movement theory, namely political opportunity structure, cultural framing and mobilizing structure, and Bourdieu s theory of practice to understand the success of TAC. The attention will be drawn to both opportunities and obstacles that are determined by an external environment and the movement s own organizing strategic efforts. The study has shown that TAC was able to act successfully in regards to influencing the South African government s AIDS policy due to combination of several factors. The most effective means to acting successfully is by using the constitution and the democratic context which sustain them. However, success can not be achieved by litigation alone, even under the favourable conditions prevailing in South Africa. It is TAC s use of a multidimensional strategy that provided it with this dramatic influence upon government. The battle for Nevirapine could not be won if the litigation was not part of a larger process of social mobilization. TAC s conversion of social capital into cultural capital also enabled it to act successfully. This illustrates that social movements will come across different fields which demand different dispositions (habitus) and resources (capital) and that activity does not take shape in an unified political space as the literature suggests.The case also demonstrates that the capacity to win moral arguments is bigger than the literature suggests. Secondly, the case of TAC illustrates that the deployment of class-based debates that concentrates on the access to ARVs enabled it to link the members habitus to the movement s collective identity successfully. These framings produced collectively shared meanings and new forms of subjectivity that challenge the social movement literature. The conventional literature can not account for how stigma and discrimination are transformed by TAC activists into a positive and life-affirming identity. Though TAC is generally understood as an interest based social movement, the study shows that structural conditions of marginality and experiences in illness and treatment transformed TAC activists into a badge of pride . The generation of this collective habitus has…