South African media in comparative perspective


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This article analyses the media emerging from the fall of the apartheid state, with reference to other transitions that took place during the same time period. Theoretically, the article questions the ‘transitological’ paradigm for studying change that has been developed in the political sciences. It is demonstrated that the key claims of this paradigm cannot be sustained empirically. In the place of this failed account, a model of change is proposed, centring on the process of elite continuity and renewal. It is shown that this model allows the South African case to be compared to other political and economic transitions. South Africa, which lies at the ‘renewal’ end of the spectrum, represents one of the most completely ‘democratic’ of the transitions. It is noted, however, that this process elsewhere has not been irreversible, and that democratisation is a contingent factor in transition, not its defining characteristic. The reasons for the relative absence of direct political intervention in the South African media in the first 15 years after the establishment of democracy are considered, as are the reasons for recent attempts to restrict press freedom.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPress Freedom in Africa
Subtitle of host publicationComparative Perspectives
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780203720608
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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