Interdisciplinary Summer School 2017

Stream 2: Social Protest and Violence

Leader: Prof Kitty Dumont
Social Change Research Lab, College of Graduate Studies

Social protest is one key means that citizens have available in participating in democracy and promoting social change. South Africa is considered to be the “protest capital of the world” (Rodrigues, 2010). According to the Institute of Race Relations (2015), there has been a 96% increase in social protests since 2010. This increase of social protests might mean that grievances of South Africans are greater than 10 years ago or/and that South Africans increasingly opt for social protests as a form of democratic expression. Of concern, however, is the trend that social protests have become more and more violent. The peaceful mineworker protest at Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana which turned into a massacre where 44 men were killed; and the student protests which turned South African universities into “battle fields” are just two highly reported examples. Numerous social protests in poor communities also turn violent – without being captured by media.

The Stream “Social Protest and Violence” will engage with social protest and violence from two broad perspectives with the support and guidance of internationally acclaimed social psychologists. The first perspective explores social protest by focusing on the question what makes people protest collectively. Why, when and how do people decide to engage in social protest by for instance attending a protest march? The second perspective will focus on violence and what role it might play in social protests - beyond being committed by “criminal elements”.

It is hoped that by engaging with these different perspectives, research questions and potential research projects will be generated which might be relevant to a local as well as global audience.



Postgraduates with a major in psychology and an interest in social psychology (or related subjects such as communication sciences or organisational and industrial psychology) will mostly benefit from this stream.