Greener Journal of Social Sciences

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Greener Journal of  Social Sciences Vol. 2 (5), pp. 140-146, November 2012

  ISSN: 2276-7800 © 2011 GJSS

Research Paper

Manuscript Number:101112107


Making Sense of Chaos: A Crime Anthropological Approach to Understanding Strike and Protest Violence in South Africa

TS Petrus


Sociology and Anthropology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Email: Theodore.Petrus @


Violence associated with strike and protest action has seemingly proliferated in South Africa over the last few years. The seemingly irrational chaos and devastation often associated with strike and protest action often raise questions about why these actions have a tendency to turn violent. Perhaps contrary to popular belief, the images of protesters as violent, purposeless thugs often reflected in the media are not entirely accurate. In this article I argue that there is an inherent logic and purpose to the use of violence in strikes and protests. This inherent logic can be understood using a crime anthropological approach, specifically in viewing the violent actions of protesters as part of what can be called strike or protest culture. With reference to relevant literature and within a crime anthropological framework, I attempt to explain the logic of violence as ritual in strike and protest culture. In addition, I also reflect on the role of police violence and protester violence as a symbol of justifiable violence.

Keywords: Crime Anthropological Approach, Strike and Protest Culture, Violence, South African Police Service, South Africa

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