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Marikana and the media: acts of citizenship and a faith in democracy-to-come

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The Marikana massacre in 2012 has widely been seen as a low point for post-apartheid democracy. The clash between miners and police is seen by many as a failure of democratic debate and political communication in the country. Although the consequences were tragic, the expression of anger and frustration by the striking mineworkers could also be seen as an act of faith in a ‘democracy-to-come’ where the gap between formal rights of citizens and the everyday experience of the poor and marginalised was articulated. This article critiques the media’s response to the massacre as rooted in a normative model of rational deliberation and a monitorial approach to the media’s democratic role. It shows how the media privileged the perspectives of those in authority rather than those who experience the democratic deficit in their everyday lives. The article draws on theories of ‘emotion talk,’ ‘listening’ and ‘acts of citizenship’ to suggest an alternative role for the media in the post-apartheid democracy.
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Keywords: Lonmin; Marikana; South Africa; citizenship; democracy; listening; media; protest

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Publication date: May 4, 2015

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