British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record from the British Library has been applied for. ISBN: 0-7623-0786-2 ISSN: 0163-786x (Series) ⬁ The paper used in this publication meets the requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper). Printed in The Netherlands.
INTRODUCTION: POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES, SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, AND DEMOCRATIZATION Patrick G. Coy For well over a decade now many research projects on social movements have been organized around a trinity of issues: political opportunities, mobilizing structures and various kinds of framing processes. Some of the more interesting research projects have focused not on simply one or the other of these aspects, but on all three and on their relationships to each other. Not surprisingly, research focused on all three has also tended to contribute the most to the development of social movement theory. However, disentangling how these three factors interact with each other and thereby influence not only the emergence, but also the growth and eventual decline of social movements has been far from easy. This is the task that A. E. Buffonge ably takes on in his analysis of the Rastafari movement’s ideological challenge to the Jamaican government. Buffonge’s research demonstrates the critical role that Rastafari cultural framing processes had in developing a credible challenging movement and maintaining it over time. He also shows, through a detailed analysis of Rastafarian reggae music, how mobilizing structures helped build the movement for change. Research on political opportunity structures has often focused simply on the effects that changing political opportunity structures have on movements. Although it has been much too infrequently studied, we also know that there is, in fact, another side to this cause and effect coin: social movements themselves contribute to changing political opportunity structures. The two-way interaction in this case – between the Rastafari movement and the political structures of Jamaica – receives careful analytical attention in Buffonge’s paper, including through his treatment of the interrelationship between culture and structure.
Kristen Marsh’s paper on political compromise in South Africa continues our focus in section one of this volume on social movements and political opportunity structures. But Marsh also effectively bridges the multiple foci of this series by expanding her theoretical treatment of the struggle against apartheid to include an analysis of it as an example of compromised revolution. In South Africa, the compromise was partly the result of shifting class relations, financial and political instability, effective non-violent action, and a military and political “hurting stalemate.” Marsh usefully combines stalemate theory from conflict resolution literature with the political opportunities research in social movement theory to understand the broader lessons embedded in the South African situation. She also identifies three necessary factors that converge to shape state recognition of a hurting stalemate and of negotiations as a preferable and viable alternative to continued conflict. Social movements are often engaged in conflict with power-holders and other status quo representatives. As such, movements develop collective identities as part of their origin activities, as part of their complex self-definition processes as challenging groups, and even through their waging of conflict to bring about social change. In her paper on the complementary and alternative medicine movement, Melinda Goldner moves both social movement theory and identity theory forward with a detailed, careful analysis of the intersections between expanding political opportunities and changing collective identities. Based on social observation and interviews with complementary and alternative medicine activists in the San Francisco Bay area of California, Goldner’s interesting case study addresses the important question of what happens to a movement’s collective identity when the political climate shifts and becomes more favorable to the challenging movement and its goals. In his comparative analysis of the San Blas Kuna of Panama and the Yanomami of Brazil, Gregory Maney rejects the social movements interpretive framework in favor of a more specific “issue networks” perspective. Like Goldner’s work on the alternative medicine movement, Maney’s research also examines the multiple roles that collective identity constructions play in social movements and issue networks. He argues that collective identity concerns combine with ideology and strategic considerations to influence the selection of collective action frames. His research shows that the status of indigenous rights in the two cases studied is the product of contention between rival networks of organizations. This ambitious paper successfully argues that the degree of pressure generated by each network depended upon variables that are now familiar to social movement theorists: resources and organizational capacities, inter-organizational dynamics, political opportunities, collective identities and collective action
frames, and the forms of contention chosen. While familiar in one sense, what is distinctive about Maney’s work is his consideration of all these factors and his creative use of them in a comparative way across transnational networks. In so doing, he makes a number of important contributions to theory-building. Careful readers of this volume will quickly discern that all is not quiet on the fronts of political process theory and political opportunities theory. This is as it should be, and is nowhere more apparent than in Stephen Adair’s study of the origins of the anti-nuclear power movement in the United States. Relying on diverse and rich data sources, Adair argues convincingly that political opportunity theory is inadequate to explain the emergence in the 1970s of the movement against nuclear power in the United States. Although that in itself is a useful theoretical contribution, Adair goes on to advance a counter argument that features a critical theory of power, and a concept that he terms “political condensation.” When paired together, this allows him to account for the fact that some of the strongest mobilizations against the nuclear power industry did not occur where the industry was the weakest (as political opportunity theory would suggest). Using Seabrook and the Clamshell Alliance as a paradigmatic case, Adair argues that significant citizen mobilizations occurred at those nuclear power sites where the alliance between the state and the nuclear industry was the strongest, the most visible, and where both entities committed substantial political and economic resources to save the nuclear plant. This joint mobilization and “power condensation” by the state and industry created a simultaneous collective perception of injustice among potential activists, leading to movement emergence and sustained activism. Scholarship on social movements is, by definition, concerned primarily with collective action. But when confronted with injustices, and before the choice to engage in collective action is made, individual citizens consider multiple options. As Christopher Pickvance demonstrates in his article comparing responses to housing dissatisfaction in Budapest and Moscow, the arena of choice includes inaction, individual action and collective action. Pickvance advances a model in which the choice between these three modes depends upon the political opportunity structure, the ease of resource mobilization, the degree of structured inequality, the nature of the issue domain, and the results of the individual calculus regarding collective action. His model attempts to theorize inaction, individual action and collective action together rather than separately, as is more often done. Over the last few years many social movement scholars have increasingly turned their attention to the thorny problems associated with conducting research that attempts to measure the outcomes of social movement activity. Even while acknowledging how difficult it is to measure movement outcomes with ix
accuracy, it still seems fair to argue that this turn in the research road is overdue, that social movement scholars have long taken too much for granted in ascribing discrete, or even general, effects to social movement actions. Given the relative newness of this development, it is not overly surprising that one broad pattern in the movement outcomes research focuses on the theoretical and methodological difficulties associated with studying outcomes in meaningful ways, as opposed to carrying out detailed case studies that attempt to measure actual outcomes. The paper by Rachel L. Einwohner is part of this tradition. She argues for a micro-sociological approach to outcomes research, one focused on face-to-face interactions between movement activists and their targets. Illustrating her theoretical claims with examples drawn from her own research of animal rights demonstrations and from earlier published studies of protester/target interactions, Einwohner suggests that such an approach contributes positively to being able to make causal claims about the immediate outcomes of protest activity. A shorter, but no less important section on democratization closes this volume, and takes up another historic focus of this research series in the process: social and political change. Paul Chaney and Ralph Fevre contribute an empirically rich paper on democratization developments in Wales in the late 1990s. They focus on the challenges that the “inclusive politics” approach of the period created for the nationalist, and exclusivist political party, Plaid Cymru, the Party of Wales. Based on 280 interviews conducted in 1999 and 2000, Fevre and Chaney document and explain Plaid Cymru’s “civic nationalism” and their dramatic electoral breakthrough into the political mainstream as the party gradually moved from espousing an exclusive nationalist ideology to a more inclusive one. This fascinating paper is not only important for its useful explanations of the growing nationalist social movement in Wales, but for the insights and lessons it contains for scholars and policy makers attempting to understand other nationalist movements in Quebec, Basque Country, Scotland, and elsewhere. The authors test Plaid Cymru’s claims to inclusiveness against the party’s record of engagement with traditionally marginalized sectors of the Welsh polity. The paper on democratization in Wales provides a stark contrast with, while also complementing an equally strong case study of the use of political violence in Mexico during the 1990s as the dominant PRI party faced effective electoral challenges from the left. Sara Schatz demonstrates that political violence, particularly in the form of what she calls “political homicide” has increased substantially over the past decade, and has played a key role in the difficult relations between the formerly dominant political party and the left wing PRD. Considering but eventually rejecting other hypothesis for explaining the reasons
behind the use of political homicide, Schatz’s careful analysis concludes that this tactic was adopted as a control mechanism with a dual purpose: to protect existing political and economic structural arrangements, and to marginalize and minimize any threats to the same. Given the broad institutionalization of political violence by states and para-state organizations in Sri Lanka, Colombia, the Great Lakes region of Africa, and elsewhere, Schatz’s empirical study and structural analysis of its use in Mexico takes on added theoretical significance. We close this section and the volume itself with a paper by Daniel J. Myers and Alexander J. Buoye on the 1960s campus racial disorders in the United States and their social and economic ties to the local community in which they occurred. The authors set out to correct a glaring problem with previous research into the racial disorders that rocked the United States during this period, namely, the elimination of campus-based disorders from the data sets used to understand the racial riots and disturbances of the period. The campus events were often set aside on the assumption that urban collective violence was related to local economic and social conditions while the campus-based disorders were not. Buoye and Myers demonstrate the falsity of that assumption; in fact, the research they present here shows a strong connection between campus racial disorders and their local economic and political conditions. This is the second volume under my editorship, and like the previous one, the contents of this volume reflect the multiple themes around which this series has been historically oriented. The papers included here contribute to theorybuilding in a number of theoretical literatures which, while they are in fact interrelated, are too often developed in isolation. The case studies in this volume contribute to theories of conflict resolution, collective identity, social movements, issue networks, democratization, collective action, and especially to the robust literature on political process and opportunities. This kind of cross-fertilization was the vision of Louis Kriesberg when he founded this series over twenty years ago; I am pleased that we are able to maintain that vision, thereby advancing multi-disciplinary scholarship across multiple literatures. I extend my gratitude to Jennifer Barress, my research assistant, whose able and gracious work on this volume contributed to its completion.
CULTURE AND POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY: RASTAFARIAN LINKS TO THE JAMAICAN POOR A. E. Gordon Buffonge
ABSTRACT This paper asserts that the Rastafarian movement’s ideological challenge to the Jamaican democracy became meaningful to the Afro-Jamaican poor and political elites for three reasons. First, given their origins among the Afro-Jamaican poor, the Rastafarians were able to construct resonant challenging frames out of a shared history and experience. The Rastafari were able to construct frames that were built upon the experiences and narratives of their target group. These frames tapped pre-existing pan-African visions such as Marcus Garvey’s, the grinding poverty faced by many urban and rural Jamaicans, and benefited from the presence of actual African retentions such as the Revival religion. These emphases made the frames empirically credible and therefore particularly resonant to the Jamaican poor. Second, changing political opportunities, including changes in the political structure and the elevated prestige of the Rastafarian movement led some political elites to use Rastafarian frames to mobilize support among the poor, and helped shift Rastafarian frames from the periphery to the political mainstage. Third, certain mobilizing structures, including the popularity of Rastafarian reggae, augmented the dissemination of Rastafarian precepts. The paper highlights the Political Opportunities, Social Movements, and Democratization, Volume 23, pages 3–35. 2001 by Elsevier Science Ltd. ISBN: 0-7623-0786-2
interrelationship between culture and structure in a movement’s emergence and success. Structure constrains movement possibilities, but the framing capablilities of movement actors help create maneuverability for the movement.
INTRODUCTION This paper focuses on how the Rastafarian movement, which emerged in communities of desperately poor and uneducated Afro-Jamaicans, managed to have important political consequences for the Jamaican capitalist democracy. The Rastafarians based their ideological challenge of Jamaican political elite preferences upon perceived abuses of the Afro-Jamaican poor by the wider society, and became important articulators of the needs of the poor. A cursory glance at the Jamaican economy and politics from the time of the movement’s emergence in 1930 through the 1960s and 1970s very clearly places the Afro-Jamaican poor at the bottom of both arenas (Bell, 1964; Stephens & Stephens, 1986). This structural location suggests that the Afro-Jamaican poor should have been peripheral to Jamaican politics and unable to influence national political discourse around issues such as state legitimacy and national identity or have a broader impact upon political culture. Indeed a number of Jamaican political scientists have argued quite convincingly that inasmuch as the Jamaican poor have participated in politics, that participation was mainly in the form of political clientelism (Buchanan, 1992; Edie, 1991; Stone, 1980). Nonetheless, the Rastafarians were able to make the concerns of the poor more central to Jamaican politics of the 1960s and 1970s.1 Other inquiries which are focused on the Rastafari address the movement’s origins, development, worldview, and some of its consequences. The now classic studies by M. G. Smith, Roy Augier, and Rex Nettleford (1960), Leonard E. Barrett, Sr. (1977, 1988), Joseph Owens (1976) and George Eaton Simpson (1955) all seek to explain these aspects of the Rastafarian movement. More recent scholarship, by Barry Chevannes (1994, 1995a, b, c) has sought to situate the cultural origins of, and explain the Rastafarian worldview. However, these studies did not examine the Rastafari, their ideology, and their encounter and confrontation with the Jamaican state and political representation system.2 Consequently, the question of how the Rastafarian ideological challenge was politically meaningful has only been answered in part. I have argued elsewhere that the Rastafarians launched their ideological and framing challenge against political elites who argued for the legitimacy of the state and for a particular definition of the Jamaican national identity (Buffonge, 1998). Jamaican political elites based their notions of the state’s legitimacy
upon full political independence and the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy. They argued that the national identity should be multi-racial and race neutral in its projections, exemplified by the national motto, “Out of many, one.” The Rastafari built their challenge to these positions in part around the state’s origins in colonialism and slavery and upon the persistent devaluation of most African products within Jamaican society. Certainly the Rastafarians had their successes. They accomplished what Sydney Tarrow (1994, 182) calls changes in signification, as some politicians began referring to the poor as “sufferers” and increasing numbers of Jamaicans called their capitalist democracy the “Babylon system.” In fact, the Rasta frame of “Babylon system” became a master frame through which a number of subsequent actors and the Black Power movement examined the Jamaican condition. The purpose of the current paper is not to argue that Rastafarian frames and ideology were effective in completely generating the kinds of change sought by the Rastafari in political life, but to demonstrate how the overall challenge was meaningful to Jamaican citizens. With that in mind, I will examine how the Rastafarians managed to negotiate the Jamaican cultural and structural landscape. How did the Rastafarians move from peripheral afterthoughts to an ideologically important force? How and why were the Rastafarian frames resonant?
THE RASTAFARIANS The Rastafarians have been the longest-lasting and most consistent challengers to the Jamaican state. Their political/ideological challenge, with its religious and cultural roots, was first marshaled against the British colonial incarnation of the state and then adapted after full independence to an attack on the parliamentary democratic state. Throughout its duration, the Rastafarian challenge exhibited shifting degrees of effectiveness, due in part to variations in both the cultural and structural environments in which it unfolded. Quite naturally, the Rastafarian challenge was least effective at the beginning of the movement because this was the moment when its adherents were most peripheral and its claims seemed most preposterous. The Rastafarian movement began in Jamaica shortly after the coronation of the Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in November of 1930. The event was featured on the front page of the main Jamaican daily newspaper, The Daily Gleaner, in the November 11th, 1930 issue (Smith et al., 1960). The Emperor’s official titles, some of which were listed in the Bible as those of the Messiah, were “King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God and Light of the World” (Chevannes, 1994, p. 42). Subsequent 5
to the newspaper’s publication, a number of individuals in Jamaica began to preach that the Emperor was the Living God. Five men are credited with preaching the new religion. They were Leonard Howell, Joseph Hibbert, Archibald Dunkley, Robert Hinds, and Altamont Reid (Chevannes, 1994). Howell is generally considered the first to preach the doctrine (Smith et al., 1960). These men built up their congregations in the poor black communities of Kingston and in Port Morant of the Parish of St. Thomas. From this beginning the movement has grown in size and reach so that there are Rastafarians as far away as Africa, Europe, Japan, Australia and North America. Rastafarians and other individuals sporting dreadlocks abound in Jamaica and throughout the world today. Membership in the movement is for the most part informal and hinges on the adoption of certain core beliefs and practices. The movement is therefore comprised of a variety of formal, semi-formal, and informal organizations, as well as unaffiliated individuals. Since the 1950s three sects are noteworthy within the overall movement in that, although they do not constitute the majority of the Rastafari, they offer the only examples of centralized and hierarchical organizations among the Rastafari. These are the Bobo led by Prince Emmanuel Edwards;3 Claudius Henry and the African Reform Church; and the Twelve Tribes of Israel led by Vernon Carrington also known as the Prophet Gad (Chevannes, 1995b). In addition, the majority of the Rastafari are members of an overarching quasi-organization called the House of Nyabinghi. Membership and participation in terms of time and money is left to the individual Rasta to decide (Chevannes, 1995b). The actual population numbers of the Rastafarian movement are difficult to pin down. The House of Nyabinghi was not so formal as to have these numbers available; it did not during the period of study (1930–1981) seek to record its numbers. One researcher however puts the movement and its sympathizers at around 300,000 in 1977 out of a population of around 2 million (Barrett, Sr. 1988, 2). An optimistic and influential Rasta leader in the same period felt that 60% of Jamaicans were Rastas or Rasta sympathizers.4 More important to our study than the actual population numbers of the movement is where they were influential. Carl Stone in a 1971 poll of the Kingston-St. Andrew Corporate Area found less than 10% support for the Rastafari among the business and professional classes, but as much as 30% of the lower class (marginals)5 supported the movement (Stephens & Stephens, 1986, 37). The influence of the movement is not restricted to its number of adherents, for as argued by Stone (1973, 156), “[w]hile the proportion of the marginal population which practices Rastafari in its orthodox form . . . is certainly smaller, acceptance of the general interpretation of history and social reality offered by
the Rastafarians . . . is even greater.” The decision of both the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) to employ Rastafarian representations and language in their political campaigns particularly in the 1970s underlines how widespread and influential the Rastafarian framings had become (Waters, 1985). The reach of the movement is greatest among Jamaica’s poor. Given the movement’s ideology, this is not surprising. The majority of blacks in Jamaica are poor, and the majority of the Jamaican poor are black (Bell, 1964, 10). Additionally, although Jamaica experienced rapid economic growth in the 1950s and 1960s, most of the growth was in the capital-intensive sectors and only served to exacerbate the unequal distribution of income (Stephens & Stephens, 1986, 25). Thus the movement existed in communities whose relative wealth was declining. The structural location of the descendants of slaves at the bottom of the economic, social, and political ladders makes sense given the history of slavery. The movement sought to counter that sense of inadequacy by offering an ennobling explanation of the poverty of Afro-Jamaicans. They emphasize the history of enslavement, and placed the modern Afro-Jamaicans, the descendants of slaves, within the biblical context of the “chosen people” oppressed by their enemies.
THE ROLE OF POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY AND CULTURAL CONTEXT IN THE RASTAFARIAN IDEOLOGICAL CHALLENGE To examine how the Rastafari managed to mount a meaningful ideological challenge to the Jamaican democracy, we must uncover what made the challenge possible and the ideology compelling. We must address not only how the movement emerged, but also how its political significance increased. Additionally, we must investigate why Rastafarian frames resonated with Jamaican citizens. Students of social movements argue that it is political opportunities, coupled with sufficient mobilizing structures, and successful framing processes, which make movement emergence possible (McAdam, McCarthy & Zald, 1996, 3–6). As noted above, the Rastafarian movement began rather peripherally in 1930. However, by examining the role each of the preceding factors has played in the movement’s emergence and development, we will discover “how” the Rastafarians challenged the Jamaican democracy. A couple of points are worth mentioning. First, given the rather unusual length of time between the emergence of this social movement in 1930 and its period of highest influence in the 1960s and 1970s, the kinds of political opportunities and mobilizing 7
structures which became available to the Rastafari varied. Second, the success of the Rastafari framing processes, as with all successful framings, depended upon a mastery of their cultural environment. Political Opportunities In investigating the political opportunities which facilitated the Rastafarian movement’s emergence, this project utilizes Sidney Tarrow’s recent formulation of the term. Tarrow refers to political opportunities, or rather to the political opportunity structure as “consistent – but not necessarily formal, permanent, or national – signals to social or political actors which either encourage or discourage them to use their internal resources to form social movements” (Tarrow, 1996, 54). Four broad dimensions of political opportunity structures have recently been delineated in the literature and each helps explain why the Rastafarians emerged when they did. They are: (1) The relative openness or closure of the institutionalized political system; (2) The stability of that broad set of elite alignments that typically undergird a polity; (3) The presence of elite allies; (4) The state’s capacity and propensity for repression (McAdam et al., 1996, 10). The author uses these dimensions of political opportunity structure primarily to examine social movement formation. Examining these dimensions in the Jamaican context however will not only reveal conditions that allowed the Rastafarian movement to form, but also the conditions which allowed the Rastafarian ideological challenge to grow. At the time of the Rastafarian movement’s emergence in the early 1930s, Jamaica was still under Crown Colony rule by the British. Therefore the political system was closed and did not offer the Afro-Jamaican poor an avenue for representation. The worker rebellions in 1938 ultimately led to limited self-government and universal suffrage for Jamaica in 1944 and then to full independence in 1962. Therefore as a result of this transition from Crown Colony government to internal self-rule, elective political representation was open to the Afro-Jamaican poor. However, the underlying poverty that was a part of these communities remained in place throughout this period, with the income disparity between rich and poor increasing across the years (Stephens & Stephens, 1986, 25). Because of this increasing income discrepancy, and despite the change in the voting status of citizens, Afro-Jamaicans might still argue that the difficult economic circumstances that led to the 1930s rebellions remained in place.
The Rastafarian movement emerged in these difficult economic circumstances, survived, and eventually began to flourish. Initially, the Colonial state did repress the movement by arresting a number of its leaders. Many of the movement’s early leaders including Leonard Howell, Robert Hinds, Archibald Dunkley, and Joseph Hibbert were arrested and convicted of sedition in the 1930s (Barrett, Sr., 1988, 86). However, the repression brought against the movement by the state was insufficient to eradicate it. The movement, perhaps because it possessed the fervor/devotion of religion, continued to survive on the periphery. Upon his release from prison, in an effort to avoid harassment from police, Leonard Howell established a Rastafarian commune in the rural hills near Sligoville called Pinnacle. Pinnacle was raided by the police; the Rastafarians were arrested in 1941 and again in 1954 (Barrett, Sr., 1988, 86–88). In the 1954 arrests the Rastafarians were acquitted as nuisances, but the Pinnacle commune was destroyed by the police; these Rastafarians then settled in the slums of Kingston.6 The eradication of the Pinnacle settlement forced the Rastas into close proximity with the urban poor. Since the central Rastafarian method of ideological dissemination and religious conversion involves face to face sessions with others, the government unwittingly increased the Rastafarian likelihood of success. The Afro-Jamaican poor were, after all, the group most susceptible to Rasta philosophy. Although by 1944 the political process was open to the Afro-Jamaican poor, the political system remained completely closed to the Rastafari until the University Report of 1960. Up through the 1950s, Jamaican society had its own definite opinions about Rastas, considering them to be “psychopaths, criminals, and undesirables” (Chevannes, 1977, 242). Ironically, a series of actions in the 1950s involving some Rastafarians in part confirmed some of society’s opinions of the brethren, but at the same time created an opportunity for society to get a more accurate reading of the movement as a whole. In 1958 Prince Emmanuel Edwards called a Rastafarian convention, at the end of which there was to be repatriation to Africa. A year later, Claudius Henry made a similar claim. Both bids at repatriation failed, but they did constitute the beginning of both Claudius Henry’s and Prince Emmanuel’s respective organizations. On the heels of this failure with repatriation, the Jamaican security forces uncovered weapons at Henry’s headquarters in Kingston, and Henry’s son was captured with a small band of guerrillas in the Red Hills above Kingston. The capture of the young Henry and the other guerrillas in training took several days; it cost the lives of two British soldiers of the West India Regiment and Royal Hampshires (Lacey, 1977, 83). This action startled Jamaican society; Jamaican citizens had not taken up arms against the state since Paul Bogle’s uprising in 1865. With the popular mood increasingly concerned with the 9
“dangers” presented by the Rastafarians, a number of elder brethren approached the University Chancellor and asked him to commission a study on the movement in order to correct the misperceptions about the Rastafari. The Rastafarian movement had no significant elite allies until 1960. The University report changed this. The Rastafari were interested in giving the public an accurate view of the movement, with a special interest in the public’s awareness of the movement’s non-violence. Three university scholars conducted the study, which looked into the doctrines and social conditions of the movement. The Report on the Rastafari Movement in Kingston, Jamaica was submitted to, and accepted by, Premier Norman Manley. The Report urged the police to “leave the innocent Ras Tafari brethren alone, stop cutting off their hair, stop moving them on, stop arresting them on minor pretexts, and stop beating them up.” (Smith et al., 1960, 36) The Report also made a series of recommendations designed to address the living conditions and goals of the Rastafarian movement. The Report legitimated the Rastafarians as members of Jamaican society. Despite opposition from other elites, Premier Manley took a number of these recommendations seriously. Premier Manley’s acceptance of the University Report and implementation of some of its recommendations improved the movement’s image in Jamaica. By carrying out the Report’s recommendation of a mission to Africa, which included some Rastafari in the mission, Manley had given the movement some national credibility. The visit of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie in 1966, and his wild reception among the Afro-Jamaican poor also served to highlight and justify the movement’s African focus. The Rastafari and the Afro-Jamaican poor overran the airport and welcoming ceremony with cries of “This is our day! This is our God! It is him we come to see! It is we who welcome him (Barrett, Sr. 1988, 159)!” Other cries included, “The day has come. God is with us. Let me touch the hem of his garment” (Owens, 1976, 250–252). The reception for the Emperor at King’s House included Rastafarians, wealthy Jamaicans, and poor Jamaicans as well (Owens, 1976). While this social mix did not play at future functions throughout the island, a barrier had been breached. The Rastafarians were being included in Jamaican society in a way they had not been before. The visit increased the movement’s social prestige and at the same time served to underline the Rastafarian movement as the premier indigenous Afro-centrists. What had begun as a fringe group of imagined lunatics and criminals now began to gain a greater measure of support in the wider society. The international reputation of the Rastafarians was helped, or rather to a large extent cultivated, by the success of a number of Rastafarian reggae musicians. Men like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were able to take the
Rastafarian worldview to the world community. Their music was well received and respected in international circles. This reception in turn, served to elevate perceptions of the music and the Rastas at home, many Jamaicans long having looked to the West for political and cultural guidance. The Rodney Riot of October 1968 was also important in outlining new opportunities and allies for the Rastafari. Walter Rodney, a Lecturer in History at the University of West Indies, and also the instigator of the Black Power Movement in Jamaica (Chevannes, 1977, 249), was not allowed to re-enter the country after a conference in Canada. The JLP government of Prime Minister Hugh Shearer considered Rodney a sufficient threat, accusing him of being a communist who had visited three communist countries in 1962 alone and of being “actively engaged in organizing groups of semi-illiterates and unemployed for avowed revolutionary purposes” (Keith & Keith, 1992, 192). The Prime Minister clearly overstated the Rodney threat. However, Rodney did lecture on African History and Black Power among the students at the University of the West Indies campus, among the urban poor, among the middle class clubs, and among the Rastafari. He argued that intellectuals and these other groups of individuals should be allied in the struggle for Black Power. The Rodney exclusion from Jamaica resulted in a student march into the capital, which escalated into a riot of some elements of the urban poor in Kingston (Girvan, 1967, 59–61). Rodney’s argument about how to develop Black Power and deal with the racial problems in Jamaica was built in part upon Rastafarian analyses. However, his philosophy also constituted an opportunity for the movement to expand its influence. Rodney posed the question, “How do we break out of this Babylonian Captivity?” (Girvan, 1967, 62). He suggested that “the black academic must attach himself to the activity of the black masses” (Girvan, 1967, 63). Rodney himself demonstrated this approach in his discussions with the Rastafari brethren in impoverished sections of Kingston. Rodney states that “I have sat on a little oil drum, rusty and in the midst of garbage, and some Black Brothers7 and I have grounded8 together” (Girvan, 1967, 64). Despite his exclusion from Jamaica, Rodney’s desire and example that the Rastafarians be included in a movement with the intelligentsia came to fruition with the Abeng9 group. Building on Rodney’s suggestion of creating links with the poor as a way to advance the cause of Black Power, the weekly Abeng was first published in February of 1969. It promoted themes of black nationalism and linked Rastafari doctrine and reggae music with issues of racial and class conflict (Waters, 1985, p. 96). Abeng ended publication in October of 1969 when the printery was destroyed in a suspicious fire (Waters, 1985, 97). It had a total national circulation of 20,000 (Waters, 1985, 97–98). 11
The impact of the Abeng group on other groups in Jamaican society is revealed by its members joining a variety of organizations. Some members formed Marxist-Leninist groups, such as the Workers Liberation League, the Communist Party of Jamaica, and the Independent Trade Unions Advisory Council (Gray, 1991, 188). Another group of members formed the PNP Youth Organization and the Youth Forces for National Liberation. Rastafarians in the Abeng group joined the Rastafarian group Twelve Tribes. D. K. Duncan and Arnold Bertram, prominent members of the Abeng group joined the People’s National Party (PNP) (Gray, 1991, 218). Thus the Rasta-influenced politics of the Abeng group spilled over into a number of political organizations, including the PNP. The Rastafarian movement also became important in the PNP campaign for office against the JLP government. The PNP and Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) attempts during electoral contests to cash in on the Rastafarian links to the Afro-Jamaican poor presented an opportunity for movement growth. As early as the 1967 election two JLP candidates, one of them the future Prime Minister Edward Seaga, were employing Rastafarian symbols as part of their political campaigns (Waters, 1985, 83). By the 1972 election, Rastafarian symbolism and reggae music were in heavy use by the opposition PNP. Opposition leader Michael Manley had visited the Emperor Haile Selassie and returned with a walking stick which he called the “Rod of Correction”10 and at the same time, had assumed the biblical appellation, Joshua. Prime Minister Hugh Shearer of the JLP would on occasion speak in the adjusted terms of the Rastafari (Waters, 1985, 123). Both parties used the language and symbols of the Rastafarian movement and reggae music as part of their campaigns from the 1972 elections through to 1980 (Waters, 1985, 291–296). The PNP, which had by this time cast itself as the party of the poor, was the more vigorous in its use of Rastafarian tools. The use of Rastafarian symbols and language by political elites in the 1970s served to legitimate some aspects of the Rastafarian ideology in mainstream Jamaican society. Because of the movement’s solid identification with the Jamaican poor, the PNP, particularly in its 1972 electoral challenge, successfully employed Rastafarian frames to win a larger section of the popular vote.11 However, to achieve this, the PNP had to project Rastafarian language throughout a national campaign. The party therefore became, in part, a transmitter of some aspect of the Rastafarian message. The movement began in obscurity without allies. However, over the decades, allies became available. While the Rastafari were not uniformly supported by elites, particular elites began to see either the merits of the Rastafarian positions or the usefulness of the Rasta presence. Partly because of these new
perceptions of the Rastafarians, the state reduced its repressive actions against the Rastafari. Thus, a variety of political opportunities allowed for the emergence and survival of the Rastafarian movement. Additionally, political opportunities provided the ideological space for the Rastafarian challenge. What began in the 1930s as a minor poor people’s movement also found a number of international aids for a rise in its prestige (Haile Selassie’s visit, and Bob Marley’s international success) and local actors within the political mainstream who added credibility to some of the Rastafarian positions. Together, these factors served to elevate the Rastafarian ideological challenge. Mobilizing Structures The Rastafarian movement and its mobilizing structures were never particularly suited to a classical political challenge. This was in part due to the movement’s religious origins, and their perception of the political structure as derived from Babylonian evil. The perceived origins of the Jamaican state left most Rastafarians unwilling to participate in its activities in any formal sense. There was never any canvassing of homes for votes on candidates or issues or any action of that nature. Despite the non-traditional and religious nature of the challenge, the Rastas still managed to impact the political system. Ironically the Rastafarian challenge was political because of the nature of their religion. Their notion of a black God and chosen people was the starting point of a race-based critique and challenge to the socio-political orthodoxy. Their mobilizing structures were therefore built upon the exposition of this worldview. These “collective vehicles, informal as well as formal, through which [the Rastafarians] mobilize[d] and engage[d] in collective action” (McAdam et al., 1996, 3) included face to face proselytization in communities of the urban and rural poor, the performance of reggae music and public drummings, and the wearing of dreadlocks and other African-derived forms of style. While information from the 1930s through the 1950s was transmitted primarily in face to face “reasoning” sessions, and in conversations with neighbors and acquaintances throughout communities of the poor, Rastafarian musicians have more recently been able to transmit their message through many kinds of media. Consequently, the Rastafarian message which in earlier times was not only hampered by the seeming ridiculousness of their claims in the pre-1960s cultural climate, but also by the limited availability of their worldview to a wide audience, gained greater acceptance after 1960. Subsequent to the University report, the Rastafari were able to piggyback their message on the work of some 13
academics. Additionally, the work of the Black Power movement, the Abeng group, and the political parties, served to help disseminate the Rastafarian “truths.” Thus an improvement in the availability of more varied and farreaching mobilizing structures also contributed to the success of the movement’s challenge. Culture, Framing, and the Rastafarian Movement The mobilizational capacity and resonance of the Rastafarian ideological challenge is to a great extent dependent on the meanings Rastafarian frames have for Jamaican citizens, particularly the Afro-Jamaican poor. To understand the movement it must be placed in its particular cultural context, for it is the cultural environment which determines each frame’s meanings. Frames constitute a manipulation of the broader elements of culture by a social movement in order to project to the wider populace a particular ideology or worldview. Whether these frames will be effective depends upon how adept social movement actors are at frame construction. Frames Building on the work of Erving Goffman (1974), David Snow and his colleagues developed the use of the term “frame” for social movement scholars who sought to analyze movement ideologies. Elaborating on their earlier work with their collaborators (Snow, Rochford, Jr., Worden & Benford, 1986, 464), Snow and Benford (1992, 133–155) outline three characteristic features of collective action frames. The first listed is punctuation where the frame “underscore[s] or embellish[es] the seriousness and injustice of a social condition” or “redefine[s] as unjust and immoral what was previously seen as unfortunate but perhaps tolerable.” The second characteristic feature is attribution. It is either diagnostic in that the frame identifies a problem, or prognostic in that it provides a solution to a problem. The final feature listed is articulation through which the frame can align seemingly unrelated “events and experiences so that they hang together in a relatively unified and meaningful fashion.” Snow and Benford also offer methods for examining the resonance of master frames. Their approach is similarly useful for examining the resonance of non-master frames as well. The following questions, if answered in the affirmative, point to the resonance of a particular frame. Is the frame, or rather the frame’s diagnosis, empirically credible to the targets of its mobilization efforts? (Snow & Benford, 1992, 140). Are the problems framed commensurable with the experiences of those targeted for mobilization? (Snow & Benford, 1992, 141). And finally does the frame possess an ideational centrality or a narrative
fidelity with the “extant beliefs, myths, folktales, and the like” that exist in the targeted group’s lives? (Snow & Benford, 1992, 141). While the Rastafari engage in a variety of framings about life in Jamaica, there are a few central frames which remain at the heart of their ideology. There are two frames in particular, both emerging out of Old Testament roots, which emerge as potential master frames12 and are useful for our discussion. First is the Rastafari observation that modern Jamaica and the West, with its history of slavery, colonialism, the impoverishment of people of African origin, is Babylon or the Babylon system. Second is their argument that people of African origin are the true Israelites, the actual chosen people of God, and are victims of an overall Western project which obfuscates and devalues Africans and their true history. Both the Babylon system and the chosenness frames are interrelated and emerge out of the Rastafarian reading of the Bible (King James Version). Having read the Emperor Haile Selassie I, a black African, as the Messiah of the Revelation of St. John the Divine (and as such God), the Rastafarians deduce that if God is black then the chosen people must be black. In the Rastafarian reading, Africans replace modern Jews and Israelis as the true descendants of the Israelites of the Old Testament. These children of Ras Tafari become the progeny of David and Solomon. If, as the Rastafarians argue, people of African origin are the chosen, then they have been imprisoned during their past by the Egyptians and Babylonians. Consequently, through the process of articulation this biblical history of exploitation is married to the history of modern AfroJamaicans in order to construct the Babylon system frame. From this kernel of interpretation springs a whole network of meanings. The modern exile of Africans in the New World parallels the Old Testament enslavement of the Israelites in Babylon and Egypt. The colonial state, the Jamaican democratic state, England, the United States, the West in general are all incarnations of Babylon. Roman Catholicism is damned many times over having been related to the Roman dispersal of the Jews from the Promised Land in 73 A.D., the crucifixion of Christ, and to the denial of the African heritage of the chosen people. The Babylon system frame becomes the lens through which the Rastafari examine their experiences. They view the modern world as a series of interlocking practices which oppress people of African origin and deny the truth of their origins. In the Rastafarian view, the religious, educational, and political systems as they exist in the contemporary period are implicated in the enslavement and oppression of black people. Christian religions for example, either ignore the blackness of God, or project an image of God as white. The educational and political systems reinforce and perpetuate the disadvantages borne by Afro-Jamaicans. 15
Thus the Babylon system frame punctuates the persistent poverty of AfroJamaicans and demonstrates that of all Jamaicans, it is the people of African origin who are disproportionately impoverished. Bearing in mind that the Rastafari emerged in a climate where domestic and international political elites argued that hard work and equal opportunity would garner benefits for the poor, there was an ongoing perception that the failure of individuals to succeed was related to their own limited intellects and low levels of motivation. The process of punctuation therefore, highlighted both the material and ideological disadvantages borne by Afro-Jamaicans. Working within their Babylon system frame, the Rastafari were able to employ its attributional elements to offer an opposing explanation which blamed the failures of the impoverished on a history of exploitation that was broad-based and ongoing. In the Rastafarian view, the suffering of AfroJamaicans in the economic arena could not be divorced from a wider network of oppressive practices which included religion, politics, and education. In addition, the contemporary difficulties of Jamaicans of African origin could not be disconnected from the suffering of any African/Israelite people in any epoch. Additionally, the Rastafarian diagnosis of the problems facing the Afro-Jamaicans included the process of articulation. The Babylon system frame clearly revealed myriad difficulties in contemporary Jamaican society. The Rastafarians chose to address the problem of living in Jamaica in a number of ways. The Rastafari expected adherents, much in the style of the Old Testament prophets, to vocalize their displeasure with the Jamaican society and expose its shortcomings for all to see and hear. Certainly the work of reggae musicians such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh was one way in which the message was disseminated. In fact Bob Marley in his song “Babylon System” calls upon Afro-Jamaicans to rebel.13 The development and use of the chosenness frame was one way the Rastafarians attacked the Babylon system’s devaluation of Africans. The suffering of the AfroJamaican poor was already punctuated by the Babylon system frame, but through articulation the chosenness frame linked that suffering with the burdens borne by the ancient Israelites and New World slaves. In fact, building upon that linkage, the Rastafarians used the attributional elements of the frame to diagnose contemporary oppression as the expected hardship of the chosen, with eventual deliverance from that oppression possible and even inevitable, provided the chosen followed the precepts of Jah, Ras Tafari. In the Rastafarian view, Jah had delivered them before as a people and as individuals. While Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt remains the preeminent example, the lesser examples of Daniel surviving the lion’s den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego unharmed by fire are similarly instructive of Jah’s relationship with his people.
The evaluation of the resonance of Rastafarian framing in part involves the subsequent discussion of the Rastafarian relationship to their cultural environment. However, in a more immediate sense, the Babylon system frame certainly possessed both empirical credibility and experiential commensurability. The targets of the frame did indeed live in great poverty and comparative disadvantage in Jamaica. The Rastafarian description of the Babylon system and its Eurocentric components was quite simply an explanation of life in Jamaica as it existed for the Afro-Jamaican poor. Both the Babylon system and chosenness frames resonate with Jamaicans because of the role that Christianity and the Bible play in Jamaican society. There are however a greater number of cultural elements which impact frame construction and frame resonance. Culture and Frames Explaining how the Rastafarian framing challenge was meaningful must involve the examination of the tools employed by Jamaicans in making sense of those frames. This necessarily entails an investigation of the broader Jamaican cultural practices upon which the Rastafarians may have intentionally and unintentionally built their frames. In examining the wider culture, the Rastafarian proficiency or good fortune as manipulators and interpreters of the culture of the Jamaican poor will be evaluated. For the purposes of this investigation, I am interested in two levels of cultural analysis. First, I wish to examine the ways in which the larger cultural context within Jamaica constrained or facilitated the effectiveness of Rastafarian frames and attempts at mobilization. The larger culture produces the conditions and circumstances in which the meanings of particular frames take hold. Thus, by examining aspects of Jamaica’s cultural past, we can uncover the cultural climate in which certain meanings develop and resonate. Through this approach, I seek to uncover what culture means to the individuals who live it, and to reveal what practices are acceptable or possible within a given cultural environment. Second, I am interested in how the Rastafarian movement employs the larger culture to create their own meanings. Culture is the “tool kit” from which the Rastafarian movement and other social actors may construct “strategies of action” (Swidler, 1986, 276) and their own movement subculture. It is from this tool kit that the Rastafarian movement must construct the frames and ideology to mobilize opposition to the Jamaican democratic state. In constructing frames, movements adapt, change, reconstruct, and reinterpret the cultural artifacts to their purposes. To investigate culture on this level, the project examines the development of the frames of the Rastafarian movement, and how 17
they are constructed in opposition to the Jamaican state and political representation system. It also examines how these frames mobilize citizens by tapping culturally seductive issues, employing culturally enticing objects, and promoting culturally resonant actions. Culture as the Larger Context I turn now to examine some of the ways that the larger culture facilitated or constrained the effectiveness of Rastafarian frames. There are certain key features of the larger cultural context that this project considers. I examine the African religious tradition of the Jamaican peasantry, the role of Marcus Garvey among the Jamaican poor, the King James Bible, the memory of slavery, and the role of popular music in Jamaica and the anglophone Caribbean. Among the factors of greatest importance to the explanation of the larger cultural context are the traditions and practices of Jamaican slave/peasant religions which preceded the Rastafarian movement’s emergence and some of which continue to exist today. Barry Chevannes argues convincingly that the Rastafarian movement is in part a new departure from, but also a continuity with, what he terms the “Revival14 worldview” (Chevannes, 1995b, 38–39). This worldview, and the Revival religion itself, grew out of the merging of African-derived and Christianity-derived religious practices15 and religions among Jamaican slaves, and subsequently, the Jamaican peasantry. While certain features of the Revival religion remain tangential to the project at hand, an explicitly political discussion of the process which led to the development of Revival and Rastafarianism is important for our reading of the Rastafarian movement. Revival, with its African retentions and its leaders who made political claims against the Colonial state, primed the Jamaican peasantry and urban poor for the Rastafarian message. Revival grew out of Myal and adapted Christianity. Myal was a Pan-African religion which developed in Jamaica some time before 1760. Monica Schuler (1979) claims that it was instrumental in the planning and execution of the 1760 slave rebellion, also known as the Taki rebellion, which was the first to include multiple tribal groups.16 On the other hand, the influence of Christianity on the Jamaican slave population was negligible until the arrival in the late 18th century of Baptist preachers who were American slaves, and had been brought to Jamaica by Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution (Chevannes, 1995a, 7). By incorporating Christianity into the Myal framework, the Africans created the Native Baptist Movement. Chevannes delineates three reasons for the success of the Native Baptist movement. First, it allowed for “the relative autonomy and charismatic authority of the catechists or class leaders on the fringe of the orthodox Protestantism”
(Chevannes, 1995a, 8). Sam Sharpe, one of these types of religious figures, led the Great Rebellion of 1831–1832 which is considered by some to be the impetus in 1834 for the abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean. Second, it allowed for the emergence of dual membership. Some Jamaicans were able to maintain membership in the orthodox Baptist church and an independently functioning “post-Myal” group (Chevannes, 1995a). The third reason was the Great Revival of 1860, which had begun in Ireland and ultimately spread to Jamaica. The Revival greatly increased all Christian congregations, but with the rising numbers, came African religious practices such as convulsions and other elements of spirit possession. These elements were denounced as the work of the devil, and these practices found a home outside of the formal churches giving rise to Zion Revival in 1860 and Pukumina in 1861, two variants of modern day Revival (Chevannes, 1995a). Modern day Revival enjoyed its heyday from its inception up until 1920. Its decline coincided with the arrest and institutionalization of one of its leaders Alexander Bedward17 in 1921. Bedward, a successful and popular Revival prophet, had been arrested in 1895 for preaching that blacks should overthrow their white Oppressors, referring to Afro-Jamaicans as the “black wall” who must rise up and destroy the “white wall” that surrounded them (Chevannes, 1994, 39), and who prophesied the end of the world in 1920. Thus we see in Bedward a Revival leader who offers a call to action that is similar to the challenge brought by the Rastafari in more recent times. The preceding discussion of Revival is important in a number of ways. First, we see an unwillingness of the Jamaican peasantry to completely divorce itself from African practices. Like the Rastafari, they have been willing to incorporate elements from Christianity into their religious practices, but it is Christianity or partly Christianity on their terms. A second important feature of our discussion is that religion in these communities seemed to provide an important starting point for rebellion. In Taki’s rebellion of 1760, which lasted from April to September of that year (Patterson, 1967), according to Schuler, Myal provided an opportunity for separate tribal groups to unite in a common cause. The Sam Sharpe Rebellion which lasted two weeks from 1831–1832, was led by the Baptist catechist, and planned within the framework of the Native Baptist Movement. Paul Bogle, leader of the 1865 Morant Bay peasant rebellion, was himself a Baptist preacher. Thus, while religion may be the “opiate of the masses” for Marx, it has a long tradition of providing a structure for resistance and rebellion in Jamaica.18 A third element, which may be taken from the review of Revival, is the tradition of leaders speaking in prophetic and racial terms. The example that has been raised so far is that of Alexander Bedward, but Marcus Garvey was 19
to have an even more direct effect on the emergence of the Rastafarian movement. Garvey is reported to have prepared the way for the subsequent interpretations of the Emperor Haile Selassie as the Messiah by saying to his followers that they should “Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is near” (Smith et al., 1960, 5). Still the popularity of Bedward portends the arrival and resonance of the Rastafari, with the biblically-based pronouncements of the divinity of Haile Selassie, the righteousness of black people, and the need to fight White domination. A final feature of consequence concerns the traditions of the Jamaican peasantry and their migration to Kingston. The presence of Revival among communities of the Afro-Jamaican poor suggests that the Jamaican peasantry was accustomed to an ongoing religious and ideological conversation which was outside of middle and upper class discussions. The examples of religious leaders such as Sam Sharpe and Paul Bogle who led rebellions against the socio-political order suggests that this peasant religious and ideological discourse had a logic and life of its own, which ran parallel to a counterpart elite discourse which was much more European derived. These conversations and traditions came to the urban areas, particularly Kingston, with the migration of the most destitute elements of the peasantry to the cities. The size of Kingston doubled from 1921 to 1943, and grew by 86 per cent from 1943 to 1960.19 Early adherents of the Rastafarian movement came from this segment of the Jamaican population. In fact, a Rastafarian sect founded in 1949 called Youth Black Faith broke from early Rastafarian leaders like Joseph Hibbert because they employed Revival practices such as attempts to “burn candles”20 for individuals (Chevannes, 1995c, 79–81). It is important to note that the Rastafarians as a whole have come to reject practices such as Revival and Pukumina in much the same way that they reject broader elements of Christianity. It is ironic that a movement so rooted in its affection for Africa, dismisses actual African retentions. This is in part possible because the Rastafarian movement is not African. It is instead a Jamaican construction and product with an African focus. Despite the Rastafarian disapproval of these religious practices, their underlying commitment to Africa in general does in the end elevate all things and practices that are African. The Afro-Jamaican experience with Revival and Pukumina, indeed the larger commitment to religions that are at least in part African, not only paves the way for the Rastafarian movement, but also for the resonance of the movement’s frames. Rastafarian frames in reaching toward both Christianity and Africa are able to build their narrative fidelity upon beliefs, myths and folktales developed by the forbears of modern day Jamaicans. Additionally, the example of Youth Black Faith does suggests that the emphasis of Rastafarian
frames upon an African focal point was commensurate with the pre-existing experiences and practices of a number of Jamaicans. I have shown some of the ways in which the general Jamaican peasantry and the urban poor had been prepared for the Rastafarian message through the presence of Revivalism in Jamaican society. They were certainly accustomed to an African focus and particular African-derived practices. However, outside of the existence and memory of slavery itself, no single force more properly paved the path of the Rastafari than Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Garvey, who had been born in Jamaica in 1887, founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the African Communities League (ACL) in 1914. Having traveled through Europe and been inspired by the nationalisms that eventually led to World War One, Garvey formed these organizations in Jamaica. He had not attracted much notice until the end of the war when he had already migrated to the United States. At the vanguard of the “New Negro” Movement in the Interwar Period, Garvey pursued the racial emancipation of blacks and the political redemption of Africa.21 Garvey promoted racial pride by presenting the historical accomplishments of Africans, promoting entrepreneurship, and building an impressive organization for the dissemination and implementation of his programs. Garvey was imprisoned for fraud in the United States in 1925, and later was granted clemency by President Calvin Coolidge and deported to Jamaica in 1927 (Hill, 1992, xix–xx). On his return to Jamaica, however, Garvey continued his activities. He held a UNIA convention in Jamaica for the first time in March of 1929. Chevannes argues that Garvey planted four broad themes in Jamaican society (Chevannes, 1995, 95–98). The first was “Africa for Africans at home and abroad.” Within this claim, Garvey argued for the return of self-rule to Africa and the end of the European colonial presence there. The racial dignity and worth of Africans everywhere was tied to the notion that they had a land to call their own. Garvey’s second theme was racial unity and his third was self-reliance, but not so much personal self-reliance as racial group self-reliance. Educated blacks, for example, should educate other blacks. The fourth and final theme concerns individual deportment before whites. In this instance, he tried to encourage blacks not to lower their heads and eyes in the presence of whites and mulattos, his argument being that it was appropriate to respect these individuals but that respect should be reciprocal. The Rastafarian worldview mirrors these maxims of Garvey. A final point from Chevannes is useful here. In this community of Jamaicans, historical knowledge is transmitted more often orally than in written form. In such a society, Chevannes argues that myth plays a significant role in the development of a national consciousness (Chevannes, 1995b, 99) and the national 21
memory. He discovers that a number of myths (Chevannes, 1995b, 100–110) have developed around the memory of Garvey, these in particular among the Rastafari, but no doubt circulating in the wider communities that the Rastafari inhabit. The first of these is that Garvey is divine. Another myth is that Garvey is John the Baptist, having foretold that Haile Selassie is the messiah. The Rastafarians claim that Garvey prophesied “look to Africa for the crowning of a king to know that your redemption is nigh” (Chevannes, 1995a, 10). Two other myths speak of Garvey’s gifts of prophecy and his ability to administer curses. Garvey’s role in Jamaican history then, is also crucial to the resonance of Rastafarian framings. The myths of Garvey, as John the Baptist and as divine, are very much bound within the chosenness frame and the “Haile Selassie as the Christ returned” frame. Marcus Garvey is an essential portion of the ideational elements of Rastafarian frames. Clearly then, both Marcus Garvey and Revival were important in preparing a cultural landscape that made the emergence and development of the Rastafarian movement possible. Both also contributed to an arena in which the Rastafarian afrocentric focus could flourish. The Rastafari themselves acknowledge these broader cultural links. In “So Much Things to Say” Marley (1977) states: . . . I’ll never forget no way they crucified Jesus Christ I’ll never forget no way they sold Marcus Garvey for rice I’ll never forget no way they turned their backs on Paul Bogle So don’t you forget no youths who you are and where you stand in the struggle.
There are however other factors which make the Rastafarian frames compelling. The Bible has long held a central role in the lives of the Jamaican poor. It is important to the Christians, the Revivalists, and the Garveyites in Jamaica. It is also essential to the Rastafari. It is, after all, from this source22 that they divined that the race of God is black, and that the chosen people are likewise black. In “Redemption Song” Marley (1979) asks “[h]ow long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look” and answers that “some say it’s just a part of it, we’ve got to fulfill the book.” The Bible inspires such Marley titles as “Exodus,” “Chant Down Babylon,” “The Heathen,” and “Give Thanks and Praises.”23
The memory of slavery in Jamaica is also important to the wider cultural context of Rastafarian frames. As such, it shows up repeatedly in Rastafarian framings. It is, of course, in part the parallel of their modern enslavement that links Africans in the New World to the plight of the biblical Israelites. “Redemption Song” offers a harrowing description and memory of capture and the middle passage in its opening lines: Old Pirates, yes, they rob I Sold I to the merchant ships Minutes after they took I From the bottomless pit . . .
“Buffalo Soldier (Marley, 1983) speaks of “being stolen from Africa” and “brought to America.” Finally, in examining the larger cultural context it is useful to note the significant role of popular music in Caribbean societies. Since the end of slavery in the Caribbean, and perhaps before, popular music has been a means to comment on social and political life. Thus there is a tradition of listening to popular music for serious political commentary. Whether it is the calypsonians, the Mighty Sparrow of Trinidad, in “Ah Diggin’ Horrors”24 singing that “cost of living strangling everybody, no food in we house to feed we family” or Arrow of Montserrat in “Wind of Change” asking “Which change coming? Is it communism? Which change coming, is it socialism? It’s difficult to say but change is on its way!” Bob Marley and other Rastafarian performers continued this tradition in such songs as “Johnny Was” (Marley, 1976) which comments on a senseless act of violence in Kingston with the words “Woman hold her head and cry, cause her son has been shot down in the street and died from a stray bullet.” Thus Caribbean popular musicians have demonstrated an ability to critique their societies over time. Bob Marley is aware that his music fulfills this role. He demonstrates this awareness in his song “Chant Down Babylon” (Marley, 1983). Marley argues in the song that “reggae music [will help he and his listeners to] chant down Babylon.” He takes the position that “music you’re the key . . . Bring the voice of the Rastaman/Communicating to everyone.” Reggae music then for Marley is a key tool for bringing the ideological challenge to “Babylon.” I have covered a number of aspects of the larger culture which were important in shaping the environment in which the Rastafarian challenge emerged. The presence of Revival among communities of the Afro-Jamaican poor shows a continuing link to African-derived practices in their lives. It therefore suggests that the Afro-centric emphasis of the Rastafari would have a particular resonance among these individuals. Additionally, the examples of Sam Sharpe 23
and Paul Bogle reveal that there was a tradition of resistance emerging out of lower-class religious groupings in Jamaica. Therefore, in that sense, the idea of a Rastafarian challenge from below was not particularly novel, religion long being a source of criticism of the society. The presence of Marcus Garvey as a precursor to the Rastafari also prepared the way for Rastafarian criticisms of the Jamaican state and society. Garvey, of course, promoted the worth of Africa and the self-worth of people of African origin, trying to instill in Afro-Jamaicans a sense of pride. Garvey also pointed to those who enslaved Africans and colonized Africa as a main source of the difficulties Afro-Jamaicans faced in his time. Thus, the ideological landscape among communities of the Afro-Jamaican poor had already been prepared for the types of criticisms the Rastafarian movement was to bring against the Jamaican state. The Rastafarian use of the Bible as the source of their arguments was also helpful for conveying their message. The stories of the Bible were transmitted to Jamaicans in churches and schools through anecdotes and expressions. Therefore, the biblically-rooted language of Rastafarian arguments had a certain familiarity for Afro-Jamaicans. Finally, the fact that music was a familiar way of conveying information and arguments throughout the Caribbean proved helpful to the movement’s transmission of its ideology. Rastafarian musicians such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer were able to disseminate Rastafarian positions in the local dancehalls, over the local airwaves, as well as internationally. Stephens and Stephens observe that “[r]eggae . . . did . . . become the dominant form of music on the air (in Jamaica) and Marley became a national cultural hero revered by Jamaicans of all parties and classes (Stephens & Stephens, 1986, 55).” Therefore, all of these features of the larger culture served to make the Rastafarian challenge possible and their frames resonant. In fact the wider resonance of Rastafarian frames, and in particular of the Babylon system and chosenness frames, becomes apparent in light of the preceding discussion on the larger culture. By employing these frames the Rastafari tap into a long tradition of religiously rooted opposition and a long history of the oppression of Africans. The chosenness frame articulates the same sense of the special-ness that is apparent in Garvey’s work. Additionally, much of the narrative of Rastafarian framing was based on their readings of the Bible. This linked Rasta frames to broader ongoing narratives within the communities of the Jamaican poor. Similarly, the Rastafarian use of music as an avenue of frame promotion was consistent with the manner in which music was experienced in wider Caribbean society. Consequently, Rastafarian framings were particularly resonant for the Jamaican poor.
Culture as a “Tool Kit” Just as culture plays the role described above, it also serves as a “tool kit” from which the Rastafari assemble their own meanings. Among the tools that the Rastafari employ are the King James Bible, local metaphors, manipulations of the English language, the wearing of dreadlocks, and lessons from everyday life. As we will see from the analysis of Bob Marley’s songs, many of these tools are used together. This Rastafarian approach to frame construction which employs indigenous narratives and experiences serves to cement the resonance of their frames. Much of the framing is in fact empirically rooted in the lives of the Afro-Jamaican poor. Our discussion of the Bible thus far certainly denotes it as a likely tool of the Rastafari. Bits and pieces of biblical passages and phrasings are employed to convey the weight of a particular point. This is apparent in Marley’s (1977) “Guiltiness”: Guiltiness, rest on their conscience, oh yeah And they lead a life of false pretense, each and every day. These are the big fish, who always try to eat down the small fish the small fish They would do anything to materialize their every wish But wait! Woe to the downpressor, they’ll eat the bread of sorrow Woe to the downpressor, they’ll eat the bread of sad tomorrow . . .
Marley’s language here feels very much like the admonitions of Old Testament prophets, such as Jeremiah. In his words we see hope given to the oppressed today of an ultimate retribution for the powerful in the future. The preceding lyrics of “Guiltiness” also point to additional tools manipulated by Marley and the Rastafari. The use of the words “these are the big fish, who always try to eat down the small fish” builds upon metaphors in play in local conversations. Other metaphors in “Small Axe” (Marley, 1973) warn the “evil men” that “if you are the big tree, we are the small axe sharpened to cut you down” or “whosoever diggeth a pit, shall fall in it.” Another feature which appears in “Guiltiness” is the manipulation of the English language to subvert the deceit and confusion of the colonizer’s tongue.25 The Rastafari use of language also becomes important because they assign a 25
divine power to words. One Rastafarian claims that “the Word is God, because the greatest weapon is the creation of words (Owens, 1976, 179).” Because the word is “God” the use of words is vitally important to the Rastafari. Thus the word “oppressor” becomes “downpressor” in the song. “Understanding” becomes “overstanding” in Rastafarian discourse. Perhaps most importantly, the Rastafari do not believe in the divinity of Haile Selassie, they know that Selassie is God. “Belief,” to the Rastas, implies doubt. Another aspect of the manipulation of language which appears in Marley’s lyrics is the particular use of the word “I”. The Rastafari emphasize the I as a link to their God, Haile Selassie I. It is also a way for the brethren to avoid the use of the servile “me” (Owens, 1976, 65) and to establish each individual Rastafarian as a separate individual who has discovered through his own study who God is. This special individualism is reflected in the term “I and I” which the Rastafarians use in place of “we” or as a reference to the movement as a whole. This emphasis on I is also reflected in other words. In “So Jah Seh,” Marley (1974) pleads “Inite oneself and love Imanity” which means “unite yourselves and love humanity.” Thus from English and Jamaican creole the Rastafari try to carve a separate language niche for themselves. Marley also employed the lessons of real life to convey the power of his message. The situation and words of “Johnny Was” is a case in point: Woman hold her head and cry Cause her son had been shot down in the street and died From a stray bullet. Woman hold her head and cry Explaining to her was a passerby Who saw the woman cry How can she work it out? Now she knows that the wages of sin is death Gift of Jah is life . . . Johnny was a good man . . . never did a thing wrong
The image of a woman holding her kerchiefed head seems archetypal in our observations of suffering around the world. Thus, immediately there is a familiarity with her story. Marley uses this compelling personal story to convey the difficulty of life in Kingston in the 1960s and 1970s. Another song, “Talkin’ Blues,” underlines once again the hardships of ghetto life to the Jamaican poor. Marley sings that “Cold ground was [his] my bed last night and rock was my pillow too/I’m saying talking blues, talking blues/They say your feet is just too
big for your shoes.” In “Ambush in the Night,” Marley comments on the difficulties brought on by patron-clientelism in the ghetto. Marley argues that the politicians “through political strategy/They keep us hungry, and when you gonna get some food/Your brother got to be your enemy.” “Johnny Was,” “Ambush in the Night,” and “Talkin’ Blues” emphasize the difficulties of life in the Kingston ghetto. Marley’s ability and willingness to speak about the specific conditions of the lives of the poor places him in an effective position to recommend solutions for their difficulties. The Rastafari also demonstrate a willingness to be creative with language to convey their own particular meanings, and demonstrate their own linguistic separation from the language of the oppressor. Naturally, since a form of English is the primary language they speak, they are incapable of a complete linguistic separation. However, the gesture remains important. Given their linguistic limitations (that is, their reliance on the English language), they use this bit of culture or language as a part of their methods of resistance. Their creativity with the tools that life presents them is again reflected in their wearing of dreadlocks. It demonstrates a separation of these locksmen from the modes of dress and behavior of other Jamaicans. Their self-presentation becomes a representation of their link with Africa and their ongoing struggle against the Babylon system. The Rastafari initially wore their dreadlocks as a way to distinguish themselves as Rastafarians and present themselves for derision from the wider society (Chevannes, 1995c). The first Rastafarians were known as Beardsmen because some of the brethren wore beards like the Emperor Haile Selassie. The Youth Black Faith of young Rastafarians began wearing locks as a way of throwing off the compromising attitude of older members of the movement (Chevannes, 1995c, 87). According to Chevannes, matted hair had been worn before traditionally by derelicts. Thus, the members of Youth Black Faith borrowed this aspect of the derelicts’ appearance to present an image of themselves as shocking, uncompromising, and outside traditional Jamaican society. From this beginning, the Rastafari have managed to imbue themselves and their mission with an heroic component and a sense of noble purpose. In “Ride Natty Ride,” Marley (1979) sings “[d]ready got a job to do and he’s got to fulfill his mission . . . no matter what they do, Natty keep on coming through . . . Natty Dread rides again.” The Rastafarian frames are compelling because they use elements of the immediate cultural environment to construct their arguments against the Babylon system and the methods of action they take against it. They employ passages from the Bible, or local anecdotes and metaphors to convey a particular point. These cultural products are bits of language or styles of presentation with which the Afro-Jamaican poor would already be familiar. In fact the appropriation of 27
another Babylon frame and sense of chosenness was already in operation as Psalms 137 had long been adapted and performed in slave communities as the song, “By the Rivers of Babylon.” The resonance of their frames is also reflected in their readiness to link the experiences suffered by the Afro-Jamaican poor in their everyday lives within the overall framework of their critique of the Jamaican democratic state. The tools of the Rastafarian challenge to the Jamaican democracy are crafted from materials familiar to the Afro-Jamaican poor. Social movements exist in the context of a specific society and must be analyzed contextually. It is within the context of the culture of that society that citizens come to assign and understand the interpretation of the world they live in. The Rastafarian movement, particularly in its targeting of the Afro-Jamaican poor to rise up and challenge the Jamaican democratic state, drew upon preexisting cultural symbols and traditions to mobilize this group into action.
CONCLUSION: CULTURE, STRUCTURE, AND THE RASTAFARIAN MOVEMENT In discussing how the Rastafarians have moved from peripheral actors on the Jamaican political stage to more influential roles, we have been forced to examine the interrelationship between culture and structure. Whether we are evaluating the political opportunities, mobilizing structures, or framing processes which contributed to the rise of the movement, both cultural and structural components are apparent. At first glance, one may be tempted to define the movement’s success as a feature of the resonance of their frames, but clearly certain structural conditions made it possible for the Rastafarian voices to be heard. The explosion of the Jamaican music industry on the international stage certainly provided a venue for the articulation of the Rasta worldview; however it was the talent of the individual artists, the seductiveness of the music, and the compelling elements of the Rastafarian argument which made reggae such an effective vehicle of proselytization. Moreover, the Jamaican state’s unwillingness and inability to repress or eradicate the Rastafarians was both structural and cultural. It was structural in that the constitutional forms of the Jamaican democracy did not allow the physical elimination of citizens, neither did the Jamaican state possess the institutional apparatus (e.g. a pre-existing secret police) necessary for the execution of such a task. It was cultural because the Rastafarian challenge, seen through the lens of the prevailing elite worldview (Liberalism and Christianity), seemed far-fetched and unthreatening. Certain cultural features of Jamaican society made the emergence of the Rastafarian movement possible. Among those elements was the emergence of
a challenge to the prevailing order by non-elites and the beginnings of an articulation of a counterclaim based on religious beliefs and practices. The earliest example of this kind of challenge was Taki’s rebellion. Additionally, the slave rebellion led by Native Baptist Sam Sharpe, and the peasant rebellion led by Paul Bogle both fall within this category. Alexander Bedward and of course Marcus Garvey led two of the most significant recent examples of attacks against sitting Jamaican governments. The Rastafarians retained some of the characteristics from these earlier challenges, building their critique upon religion and race. In fact, the duration of the Rastafarian challenge was in large part due to its religious underpinning. While the Rastafari attempt to articulate their positions as a logical form of argumentation, their attachment to its precepts go beyond an intellectual commitment. Their logical deductions may be the beginning of their religious knowledge, but the knowledge is deeply linked to religious faith. The individual Rastafarian’s affection for the precepts of his faith is beyond the reach of argumentation, making it difficult for the Jamaican state to eradicate either the movement or their beliefs. Thus the Rastafarian critique lay dormant in Jamaican society until that time when the broader culture and political structure became more receptive to it. This religious foundation does suggest that the Rastafarian challenge will endure. The Rastafarians also moved beyond the models that history had given them. While maintaining the unifying qualities of religion, the Rastafarians for example, attempted to shift away from individual leadership of the movement to more individuated responsibilities for the articulation of the overall movement vision. All individual Rastafarians were expected to project their versions of the Rastafarian worldview. The acephalous nature of the Rastafarian movement both hindered and aided the movement’s success and longevity. On one hand, there was never a tightly articulated and systematic strategy by which the movement outlined and pursued its goals. Therefore the primary ambitions of Rastafarian individuals and sub-groups often varied and progress on particular projects was often fragmented and limited. Consequently, it was not always apparent that the movement was achieving its objectives. On the other hand, each group of Rastafarians maintained their commitment to Rastafarianism beyond the ebb and flow of the movement’s broader appeal. The absence of a central leadership meant the state was never able to target a set of movement elites in order to eradicate the movement. The broad-based nature of Rastafarian goals allowed for some successes, such as a more Africanist orientation in Jamaican public life, and setbacks such as a no full scale Rastafarian repatriation to Africa, without the collapse of the movement’s 29
challenge. The numerous and varied cells of Rastafari suggest that the movements critique will persist. In structural terms, people of African origin have remained at the bottom of Jamaican society. Certainly, between the time of the movement’s emergence in the early 1930s and the 1960s and 1970s, the lot of Afro-Jamaicans had improved. However, as a group they remained largely poor and disadvantaged relative to other social groups. Thus the Rastafarian articulation of the burdens of the Afro-Jamaican poor remained accurate and resonated with many Jamaicans. From within the cultural arena, Rastafarian frames punctuated the structural disadvantages faced by the Afro-Jamaican poor. This was possible because Rasta frames emerged out of the experiences and day to day lives of the Jamaican poor. Certainly there were metaphorical components based in biblical history and part of ongoing and pre-existing frames in communities of the poor. However, Rasta frames were largely about people and situations known to this set of Jamaicans. In many instances, the Rastafarian audience knew the whole or real story that gave rise to the frame. This link was at the heart of the resonance of Rasta frames in urban and rural Jamaica. Some political elite articulations of what was transpiring and would transpire in Jamaica differed from the Rastafarian vision. Indigenous democratic political elites argued that the difficulties of the poor would be addressed once Jamaica was rid of the Colonial government and pursued some version of liberalism and capitalism. By the mid-1960s, however, some political elites and other social movements began to seek alternative approaches to the problems which confronted Jamaica. They did not have far to look as the Rastafarian critique represented the longest lasting, most far-reaching indigenous ideology available. The resonance of the Rasta ideology among the poor led political elites and other social movements to employ elements of the Rastafarian critique as they sought Jamaican answers and support for ongoing Jamaican social and economic problems. Additionally, due to among other things, the University Report, the visit of the Emperor Haile Selassie and the teachings of Walter Rodney, the public perception of the movement improved dramatically from 1930s to the 1970s. Thus the persistence of structural hardships for the poor along with changes in the movement’s prestige eventually helped create the elite allies who would aid the Rastafarian challenge. In the study of a movement’s emergence and success, it is difficult if not impossible to separate the role of the cultural and structural components. In fact, political opportunities for challenge emerge in both the cultural and structural arenas. The success of mobilizing structures depends a great deal on both their cultural resonance and their exploitation of structural realities. Successful
frames are often based on their ability to highlight structural unfairness in ways that are culturally meaningful. However, if movement actors continue to seek particular outcomes, they will need to master their cultural universe if they are to become attractive to potential allies, build an effective organization, and negotiate the structural labyrinth in which they are embedded.
NOTES 1. I have spoken about the nature and effectiveness of the Rastafarian ideological challenge elsewhere, see Buffonge (1998). 2. I borrow the term from Jenkins and Klandermans (1995, 5, 15). The authors define the political representation system as “the institutionalized set of organizations that claim to represent and aggregate the interests of various social interests. This places political parties, interest associations, and various social institutions claiming to represent broad constituencies at the center of the interface between the state and civil society.” 3. The Prince has been called Prince Edward C. Edwards and Edward Emmanuel in different sources. 4. Ras Sam Brown in Barrett (1988, 2). 5. This collection of marginally employed and unemployed account for 34–37% of the population. In Stephens and Stephens (1986, 37). 6. There were already Rastafarians living in Kingston, however the inhabitants of Pinnacle certainly represented a new influx of Rastafarians who were used to engaging the state, see Barrett, Sr. (1988, 86–88). 7. “Black brothers” is one of Rodney’s terms for the Rastafari, see Girvan (1976, 67). 8. “Grounding” is a Rastafarian term meaning to discuss. 9. The Abeng group, a collection of Black Power advocates, Marxist-Leninists, and Rastafarians produced a weekly paper, also called Abeng, which addressed the issues of the Afro-Jamaican poor. 10. During the campaign, after burglars broke into Manley’s house, there was some concern for the “Rod’s” whereabouts. The next day Seaga claimed to have found the “Rod,” arguing that without it Manley had lost his power. A few days later, Manley held a meeting to produce, before the cheering crowd, the true “Rod,” see Waters (1985, 111–112). 11. Carl Stone finds that the vote of the Rastafari-influenced youth proved decisive in Michael Manley’s victory in the 1972 election, see Chevannes (1995a, 14). 12. “. . . [M]aster frames perform the same function in collective action as movement-specific collective action frames, but they do so on a larger scale,” in Snow and Benford (1992, 138). 13. The majority of the Rastafari profess non-violence and Marley’s call to rebellion must be read with that precept in mind. 14. “Revival” takes its name from the “Great Revival.” This was a Christian movement which began in Ireland and spread to Jamaica in 1860, see Chevannes (1995a, 8). 15. Chevannes makes these arguments in Chevannes (1994) and (1995a). 16. Most of the subsequent discussion of the development of Revival is taken from Chevannes (1995a, 6). 31
17. In 1921 Bedward was arrested and placed in a mental institution where he died. 18. The fact that religion is used in this way, is not exceptional for Africans in the New World. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, all provide American examples of the same. The work of Diane Austin-Broos (1997) on Pentecostalism in Jamaica bears out this observation. 19. Chevannes (1994, 16) is citing Clarke (1975). 20. To “burn candles” for someone means to be willing to employ the services of an obeahman who uses a variety of fetishes to adversely impact the life of that individual. This is part of the Revival tradition, see Chevannes (1995c, 80). 21. The preceding discussion of Garvey’s life is based on Hill (1992). 22. Song of Solomon 1:5–6 (King James Version.). “I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me because I am black . . .” The Rastafari use passages such as this to determine that King Solomon, and consequently, the children of Israel, were black. 23. Bob Marley, “Exodus” and “The Heathen” from the Exodus album in 1977, and “Give Thanks and Praises” and “Chant Down Babylon” from the posthumous Confrontation in 1983. 24. In the Caribbean of the late 1970s “ah diggin’ horrors” was a way to say I am enduring hard times. 25. For a more in depth discussion of Rastafarian language see the work of Pollard (1985), Alleyne (1988), and Homiak (1995).
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am grateful to Nancy Bermeo and Kathryn Oleson for their comments and suggestions on the various drafts of the manuscript. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the sixth annual conference of Socialism, Capitalism, and Democracy of the International Political Science Association. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers who commented upon the paper. I thank Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change editor Patrick Coy for his assistance.
REFERENCES Alleyne, M. (1988). Roots of Jamaican culture. London: Pluto. Austin-Broos, D. J. (1997). Jamaica genesis: Religion and the politics of moral orders. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Barrett, Sr., L. E. (1977, 1988). The Rastafarians. Boston: Beacon Press. The Holy Bible, King James version. Bell, W. (1964). Jamaican leaders: Political attitudes in a new nation. Berkeley: University of California Press. Benford, R. D. (1997). An insider’s critique of the social movement framing perspective. Sociological Inquiry, 67, 409–430. Buchanan, P. L. (1992). Community development in the ‘ranking’ economy: A socio-economic study of the Jamaican ghetto. Kingston, Jamaica: College of Arts, Science and Technology.
Buffonge, A. E. G. (1998). Babylon besieged: the rastafarian challenge to Jamaican democracy. Unpublished doctoral. dissertation. Princeton University. Campbell, H. (1987). Rasta and resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney. Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press. Chevannes, B. (1977). The literature of rastafari. Social and Economic Studies, 26(1), 239–262. Chevannes, B. (1994). Rastafari: Roots and ideology. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. Chevannes, B. (1995a). Introducing the native religions of Jamaica. In: B. Chevannes (Ed.), Rastafari and Other African-Caribbean Worldviews (pp. 1–19). London: Macmillan Press, Ltd. Chevannes, B. (1995b). New approach to the rastafari. In: B. Chevannes (Ed.), Rastafari and Other African-Caribbean Worldviews (pp. 20–42). London: Macmillan Press, Ltd. Chevannes, B. (1995c). The origin of the dreadlocks. In: B. Chevannes (Ed.), Rastafari and Other African-Caribbean Worldviews (pp. 77–96). London: Macmillan Press, Ltd. Clarke, C. (1975). Kingston, Jamaica: Urban development and social change, 1692–1962. Berkeley: University of California Press. Edie, C. J. (1991). Democracy by default: Dependency and clientelism in Jamaica. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Girvan, N. (1967). After Rodney – the politics of student protest in Jamaica. New World Quarterly, 4, 3, 59–68. Gray, O. (1991). Radicalism and social change in Jamaica, 1960–1972. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. Hill, R. A. (1992). Introduction. In: A. Jacques-Garvey (Ed.), Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey. New York: Atheneum. Homiak, J. (1995). Dub history: Soundings on rastafari livity and language. In: B. Chevannes (Ed.), Rastafari and Other African-Caribbean Worldviews (pp. 127–181). London: Macmillan Press, Ltd. Jenkins, J. C. (1995). Social movements, political representation, and the state: An agenda and comparative framework. In: J. C. Jenkins & B. Klandermans (Eds), The Politics of Social Protest: Comparative Perspectives on States and Social Movements (pp. 14–35). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Jenkins, J. C., & Klandermans, B. (Eds) (1995). The Politics of Social Protest: Comparative Perspectives on States and Social Movements. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Jenkins, J. C., & Klandermans, B. (1995). The politics of social protest. In: J. C. Jenkins & B. Klandermans (Eds), The Politics of Social Protest: Comparative Perspectives on States and Social Movements (pp. 3–13). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Keith, N. W., & Keith, N. Z. (1992). The social origins of democratic socialism in Jamaica. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Klandermans, B. (1988). The formation and mobilization of consensus. In: B. Klandermans, H. Kriesi & S. Tarrow (Eds), From Structure to Action: Comparing Movement Participation across Cultures, 1 (pp. 173–196). Greenwich, Conn.: International Social Movement Research, JAI Press. Lacey, T. (1977). Violence and politics in Jamaica, 1960–1970: Internal security in a developing country. Totowa, NJ.: Frank Cass and Company. McAdam, D., McCarthy, J. D., & Zald, M. N. (1996). Introduction. In: D. McAdam, J. D. McCarthy & M. N. Zald (Eds), Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements: Political Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures, and Cultural Framings (pp. 1–20). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Owens, J. (1976). Dread: The rastafarians of Jamaica. Kingston: Sangster. Patterson, O. (1967). The sociology of slavery: An analysis of the origins, development and structure of negro slave society in Jamaica. Rutherford, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson University Press. Pollard, V. (1985). Dread talk – The speech of the rastafarian in Jamaica. Caribbean Quarterly Monograph, 32–41. Schuler, M. (1979). Myalism and the african religious tradition in Jamaica. In: M. Crahan & F. W. Knight (Eds), Africa and the Caribbean: The Legacies of Link. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Simpson, G. E. (1955). Political cultism in West Kingston, Jamaica. Social and Economic Studies, 4(2), 321–442. Small, R. (1971). Introduction. In: W. Rodney. (Ed.), The Groundings with my Brothers. London: The Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications. Smith, M. G., Augier, R., & Nettleford, R. (1960). Report on the rastafari movement in Kingston, Jamaica. Kingston, Jamaica: Institute of Social and Economic Research. Snow, D. A., & Benford, R. D. (1992) Master frames and cycles of protest. In: A. D. Morris & C. M. Mueller (Eds), Frontiers in Social Movement Theory. New Haven: Yale University Press. Snow, D. A., Rochford, Jr., E. B., Worden, S. K., & Benford, R. D. (1986). Frame alignment processes, micromobilization, and movement participation. American Sociological Review, 51, 464–481. Stephens, E. H., & Stephens, J. D. (1986). Democratic socialism in Jamaica: The political movement and social transformation in dependent capitalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Stone, C. (1973). Class, race and political behavior in urban Jamaica. Mona, Jamaica: Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of the West Indies. Stone, C. (1980). Democracy and clientelism in Jamaica. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, Inc. Swidler, A. (1986). Culture in action: Symbols and strategies. American Sociological Review, 51, 273–286. Tarrow, S. (1994). Power in movement: Social movements, collective action and politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tarrow, S. (1996). States and opportunities: The political structuring of social movements. In: D. McAdam, J. D. McCarthy & M. N. Zald (Eds), Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements: Political Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures, and Cultural Framings (pp. 41–61). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Waters, A. M. (1985). Race, class, and political symbols: Rastafari and reggae in Jamaican politics. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books. White, T. (1991). Catch a fire: The life of Bob Marley. London: Omnibus Press. Zald, M. N. (1996). Culture, ideology, and strategic framing. In: D. McAdam, J. D. McCarthy & M. N. Zald (Eds), Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements: Political Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures, and Cultural Framings (pp. 261–274) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Musical Recordings of Bob Marley Marley, Marley, Marley, Marley,
B. B. B. B.
(1973). (1983). (1977). (1974).
Burnin’. United Kingdom: Island. Confrontation. United Kingdom: Island. Exodus. United Kingdom: Island. Natty Dread. United Kingdom: Island.
COMPROMISE IN SOUTH AFRICA: CLASS RELATIONS, POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES, AND THE CONTEXTUALIZED “RIPE MOMENT” FOR RESOLUTION Kristin Marsh
ABSTRACT South Africa’s struggle against apartheid illustrates a theory of compromised revolution. Compromise is associated with three levels of analysis: the immediate level of bargaining conditions; the structural level of political opportunities; and the societal level of class relations. By the late 1980s in South Africa, all parties were increasingly aware of an emergent military stalemate, and both sides saw negotiation as the only way out of indefinite war. Beyond this proximate level of analysis, shifting class interests and political instability during heightened financial crisis shaped cost assessments and political realignments within the National Party government. Movement and government efficacy fluctuated in response to one another during the 1980s, effecting a shift in the balance of power that increasingly favored the opposition and opened the possibility of negotiations. Attention to the interplay between class relations and political alignments in shaping the “ripe moment” for resolution highlights Political Opportunities, Social Movements, and Democratization, Volume 23, pages 37–68. 2001 by Elsevier Science Ltd. ISBN: 0-7623-0786-2
the usefulness of a multi-dimensional explanation of negotiation, thereby contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of the structures and dynamics of conflict and compromise.
INTRODUCTION To study the development of capitalism is thus the best way to study race inequality, for to do so places socio-economic relationships at the heart of the problem, and shows how underdevelopment and racial inequalities developed together . . . The seemingly “autonomous” existence of racism today does not lessen the fact that it was initiated by the needs of capitalist development or that these needs remain the dominant factor in racist societies. Mugabane, 1990, p. 3.
South Africa’s transition to majority rule is both one of the most familiar contemporary examples of the black struggle against white domination and one of the most paradoxical cases of compromise. The South African government faced mounting internal and external pressure, including various forms of sanctions, against its racist apartheid policies. Well before the conflict escalated sharply in the 1980s, the South African black majority was strengthened by a growing transnational struggle against racism. The South African struggle, like other internal struggles during the late twentieth century, was simultaneously about socio-economic relations and political democratization. Costly to both the government and insurgents, the protracted struggle culminated in military stalemate. The government sought to alleviate pressure through partial political and economic liberalization, but the crisis escalated sharply in the 1980s, a period of both reform and unprecedented repression. Although the issues appeared intractable and both sides were initially unwilling to negotiate with one another, the conflict did end in compromise, thereby averting full-scale revolution. Further, the settlement clearly represented a process of compromise on both sides. Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) held fast to their demand for majority rule, but this was reconciled with National Party (NP) concern that the white minority not be subjected to complete domination by the newly enfranchised black majority. The two sides structured a stable power sharing arrangement into the peace agreement and the constitution. Although an important and fascinating story in itself, can the South African experience help us explain negotiation toward a compromised settlement to civil war? The historical evidence from one successful case of compromised revolution is useful for social scientists and policy makers alike in building a better understanding of the circumstances shaping compromise as a viable choice for the leadership of all parties. The South African conflict can help us
identify the convergence of factors that allows committed adversaries, embroiled in conflict, to finally agree to sit down at the bargaining table and attempt to resolve their differences. In this paper, I analyze South Africa’s struggle over apartheid using an integrated theory of compromised revolution. In the first section, I introduce the case of negotiated settlement in South Africa and explain the moment of negotiation in terms of proximate level factors, or bargaining conditions, such as the ripe moment for negotiation and the availability of a third-party mediator. While the proximate level understanding “makes sense” in the South African case, and usefully describes the conditions prevailing at the point of negotiations, this level of analysis is inadequate toward a complete understanding of conflict and compromise. In the second section, I specify and apply the second and third theoretical dimensions – political opportunities and class relations – to the historical case of South Africa, assessing the fit between theoretical expectations and historical evidence. At the level of political opportunities, state and society resources shape the balance of power between the regime and the opposition. A strong regime and successful state policy work in favor of the state. On the other hand, any success on the part of the opposition toward standing up to state repression and/or resisting co-optation can upset the power balance, further motivating and mobilizing the populace and opposition. At the level of class relations and economic development, focus shifts to the broader structures and processes of conflict and compromise, and the ways that potential outcomes are subject to changing interests and relations of economic and political actors. Both political opportunities and class relations provide the broader political context within which the “ripe moment” for resolution emerges. In the final section of the paper, I conclude by reiterating important findings from the South African case, and I assess the fit between theoretical expectations and the experience of conflict and compromise in South Africa. The South African struggle for majority rule illustrates the usefulness of a multi-dimensional view of political conflict that incorporates both structurally shaped possibilities and dynamic historical trajectories in the search for peaceful resolution.
NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA: BARGAINING CONDITIONS AND THE PROXIMATE LEVEL OF ANALYSIS In the mid-1980s, the contradictions of the apartheid system were increasingly visible in the violence-ridden, economically strained, and internationally isolated country. South Africa badly needed a resolution to the conflict, but neither 39
Nelson Mandela, leader of the ANC, nor State President P. W. Botha appeared willing to bargain. While Mandela had recognized the need for reconciliation by this point, he rejected Botha’s offer of freedom in exchange for his renunciation of violent resistance. At the same time, Botha refused to entertain any discussion of majority rule (Thompson, 1995). Compromise seemed a distant possibility at best; revolution seemed near at hand. In reality, however, the next decade would bring all-party negotiations, eventual settlement, and an amazingly successful, inclusive election. While violence was by no means averted (16,000 deaths were attributed to the conflict between 1983 and 1994), the escalation of rebellion, retaliation, and factional strife seen in the 1980s represented only a portion of the destruction that could have materialized.1 Furthermore, the South African settlement clearly resulted from bargaining, rather than from military victory and defeat. From prison in 1989, Mandela foresaw the need for real compromise on the terms of settlement: . . . I now consider it necessary in the national interest for the African National Congress and the government to meet urgently to negotiate an effective political settlement. Two central issues will have to be addressed at such a meeting: firstly, the demand for majority rule in a unitary state; secondly, the concern of white South Africa over this demand, as well as the insistence of whites on structural guarantees that majority rule will not mean domination of the white minority by blacks. The most crucial task which will face the government and the ANC will be to reconcile these two positions (Mandela, 1989, as quoted in Welsh, 1999).
It was at the point of President de Klerk’s 1990 announcement that we began to see that the government, as well, had determined to compromise. In addressing Parliament in 1990, de Klerk announced the lifting of bans on the ANC and South African Communist Party; the release of Nelson Mandela; and the lifting of the state of emergency. These pivotal measures took even de Klerk’s most extreme opponents by surprise. How do we explain the willingness to compromise demonstrated by the three major parties and their representatives: Nelson Mandela (ANC), President de Klerk (NP), and Chief Buthelesi (Inkatha Freedom Party)? From the perspective of political scientists and bargaining theorists who have become increasingly concerned with the process of bringing about peaceful resolution of protracted internal conflict, negotiation is predicted when the cost-benefit analysis favors settlement, or when the issues at stake are divisible, such as territory in secessionist conflicts (Ayres, 1997; Boasson, 1991; Burton, 1990; Hampson, 1996; Kressel et al., 1989; Kriesberg, 1992; Licklider, 1993; Rabie, 1994; Stedman, 1988; Walter, 1997; Zartman, 1995a). Bargaining conditions refer to the immediate, or proximate, factors corresponding with the potential for compromise at each point in the conflict. These factors include the “ripe
moment” for negotiation and a mediator who can navigate communication between adversaries, thereby facilitating the peace process (Zartman, 1995a, 1985; Hampson, 1996; Princen, 1992). Zartman’s ripe moment for negotiation depends on the convergence of three factors: (1) the conflict must reach mutually hurting stalemate, conceptualized as a perceived no-win situation of depleting resources for both sides; (2) each party to the conflict must have an identifiable legitimate authority or spokesperson; and (3) a potential alternative to the conflict must exist – a viable exit that “saves face” for both sides (Zartman, 1995a). At any point in the conflict, the potential gain to each party through negotiation can be contrasted with the cost of conflict, as indicated by the hurting stalemate. Ripe moments occur when the potential gain appears great enough and the risks are few enough, relative to continued conflict, to warrant negotiation. A stalemate in the conflict presupposes both sides’ perception that winning is unlikely or impossible (Zartman, 1995a). A protracted civil war is a possible indicator that a stalemate has been reached. First, the absence of early decisive military victory prolongs conflict and indicates relatively symmetrical power relations between the government and insurgents – the longer the conflict continues, the less likely either party will triumph. Second, the stalemate and conflict are costly. A high loss of lives over a lengthy conflict period depletes human resources and morale, so that, empirically, both longer and more deadly civil wars are more likely to end in successful compromise than are shorter or less deadly wars (Walter, 1997). In addition, the diplomacy of an external mediator can help the parties identify, take advantage of, and shape the ripe moment (Hampson, 1996). Different types of mediators are likely to facilitate the peace process in different ways and at different points in the conflict (Boasson, 1991; Kressel et al., 1989; Kriesberg, 1998, 1996; Wehr & Lederach, 1996). As an added party, mediators add complexity to the relationship between adversaries. The level of “interest” a mediator has in a conflict affects its acceptability to both sides. On the one hand, the more neutral a third party, the more readily it can be viewed as objective in facilitating negotiations. On the other hand, Wehr and Lederach (1996) point out that “neutral” mediators who are called in from outside the conflict (“external-neutrals”) lack the trust that is rooted in connectedness to the adversaries and to the conflict situation. In contrast, “insider-partials” are domestic parties who have a vested interest in long-term conflict management. Further, “external neutrals” are less able to influence intransigent parties, particularly if they do not carry the authority of state power. Nor are they likely to influence parties that may be tempted to break a settlement once it has been brokered and implementation is under way. Rather than applying indiscriminately one model of mediation in all cases, Lederach (1995) 41
encourages a contextualized understanding of conflict and strategies for reconciliation, and suggests that both “external-neutrals” and “insider-partials” have complementary roles to play at different stages of the resolution process (Wehr & Lederach, 1996). Kriesberg (1996, 1998) similarly suggests that the varieties of mediating activities and stages of the conflict correspond with the complementary functions of both mediators (whether individuals, non-governmental organizations, or inter-governmental organizations) and quasi-mediators (associated with one side of the conflict, who may mediate between their superiors and the opposition). Mutually Hurting Stalemate All three elements to Zartman’s “ripe moment” were present in South Africa by the late 1980s, and Zartman (1995b) locates the potential for negotiation in South Africa in the mutual recognition of stalemate: “After the mid-1980s the perception of asymmetry was slowly replaced by the realization of symmetry and the understanding that the white minority government could not control the black majority at acceptable cost just as the black majority could not overthrow the white government at acceptable cost” (p. 148). Hyslop (1992) characterizes the situation as one of “deadlock,” in which the mass popularity of the insurgency denied the government legitimate control, while the powerful security apparatus of the state curtailed organizational effectiveness of the opposition. Over the long term, both sides realized that military victory was out of reach, and that the situation would have to be resolved by means other than continued violence (Murray, 1994; Thompson, 1995). The Afrikaner-based NP was increasingly aware that the institutional structure of apartheid, as an end and a means to a white dominated system of governance, could not be upheld without undue costs. The white death toll was on the rise and the military option was becoming both more costly and less effective (Landsberg, 1994). In 1990, de Klerk expressed the ascendant view that continuation on the present course posed greater risk than would negotiation: [W]e must also create a South Africa that enjoys the loyalty of the majority of its people. Unless we achieve this, the future will not be safe. Unless we achieve this there is no hope for our children and grandchildren . . . Do we want them to inherit a stagnant situation that has made no progress toward solution, where revolution continues to brew and bubble under the surface? Do we want them to inherit new sanctions and boycotts? (de Klerk, as quoted in Price, 1991, 278).
For the ANC’s part, Zunes (1999) argues that by the early 1980s the ANC fully recognized the odds against successful armed struggle, determining that non-violent strategies provided the only means of weakening state capacity without deligitimizing the movement. Armed struggle was never abandoned
completely, retaining a supportive role to a general strategy of popular noncooperation. In addition, the Soviet Union recognized the need for peaceful resolution, and regional non-interference agreements served to further weaken the ANC’s external support base (Price, 1991). The ANC was not strong enough to seize power by force, and to attempt military victory would result either in prolonged deadlock or in extensive destruction and an escalated death toll. In the immediate aftermath of Mandela’s release from prison, the ANC executive agreed to end “the ‘armed struggle’ – which by then was so feeble as to be hardly detectable” (Welsh, 1999, 505). The mutual recognition of a hurting stalemate was more than a concession of failed armed struggle, however. In the context of South Africa, it represented a stalemate between the regime’s military strength and the opposition’s combined strategy of non-violent resistance and selective guerrilla attacks. Legitimate Spokespersons In spite of the complexity of social relations in South Africa, and in spite of the resulting factional divisions on both sides of the conflict, by the end of the decade three clear leaders had emerged as identifiable and legitimate spokespersons for the conflicting parties. Welsh (1999) argues that by imprisoning Nelson Mandela and removing him from the conflict and from ANC activity, the NP government inadvertently safeguarded him from any possible criticism that might be attached to the ANC leadership. Although the ANC had met with some scandal, and no small degree of uncontrolled violence and brutality had been attributed to ANC followers, Mandela could not be faulted. In addition, Mandela had been strengthened personally by his 26-year imprisonment (Welsh, 1999). The white government would probably have preferred to negotiate with Chief Buthelezi, leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party. Buthelezi had considerable support in KwaZulu, and he consistently demonstrated his willingness to accommodate government policy. Buthelezi resisted Mandela and the ANC as representatives of the opposition, and so remained involved in the reconciliation process. However, he did not have broad support, whereas Mandela could step back into the leadership as a worldacclaimed spokesperson of black South Africans. On the government side, P.W. Botha (NP leader and State President from 1979–1989) had the legitimacy of his position behind him. His support was waning by the end of his tenure, but this was partly due to the increasing pressure for action that he faced from both the Right and Left camps of the white electorate. Although Botha had initiated extensive “reform” throughout his tenure in South Africa, it is unlikely that he would have ever been able to bring himself to negotiate with the ANC (Welsh, 1999). As it turned out, failing health forced his resignation as NP leader early in 1989, but support for the NP and the 43
hardline position was clearly waning. By the time of the elections, the NP was able to garner only a slim parliamentary majority and Botha’s successor, F. W. de Klerk, only had the clear support of a minority of the electorate. Yet his election was seen as a turning point. He had the determination to negotiate what turned out to be the end of his own presidency, and could do so even without the clear electoral support of white South Africans because he had the legitimacy of position behind him and because, as we’ll see later, a large enough segment of the white electorate had been pushing for more extensive change than the moderate NP had come to represent. Potential Alternative to Existing Conflict In 1988, the ANC took the first step toward compromise by softening its vision. With the Constitutional Guidelines for a Democratic Society, the ANC adopted the principles of multi-party democracy and a mixed economy (Welsh, 1999). This demonstrated the ANC’s willingness to compromise, but as long as it rested on straight majority rule, “multi-party democracy” would provide inadequate protection to the white minority and the government, and thus would not suffice as a model for political settlement. The Zimbabwean settlement of two decades before, however, did provide such a model. What was needed was a multi-racial constitution based on universal suffrage, but through which minority rights could be guaranteed via reserved representation in parliament and in the cabinet (Welsh, 1999). The Zimbabwean-style political model, coupled with the ANC’s softening of its socialist stance on the economy, provided enough of a conceptual blueprint for both sides to envision their role in the post-civil war society and to accept negotiations toward that society. The two sides had accomplished much in the course of the informal, semi-secret discussions leading up to the Convention for a Democratic South Africa. There remained the question of the degree of state centralization, but disagreement was most pronounced at the margins.2 By the time formal negotiations began in 1991, the ANC and NP shared a broad image of the new constitution as requiring a Bill of Rights, a unitary state, reincorporation of the homelands, a degree of decentralization of power, and a mixed economy (Murray, 1994). Mediation No high profile, mutually acceptable, external party filled the mediator role in the period leading to negotiations and the signing of the National Peace Accord in 1991.3 Instead, there was considerable dialogue involving innumerable interested third parties going on continuously. From the inception in 1985 of the progressive “trek to Lusaka” by various political, professional, and business representatives to discuss the conflict with the ANC elite (Price, 1991; Welsh,
1999; Zartman, 1995b), it was clear that powerful elements on both sides were already talking. Added to these informal talks were the eventually pivotal roles of: (1) South African churches, particularly through the South African Council of Churches;4 and (2) South African business interests, represented in the Consultative Business Movement (Gastrow, 1995; Thompson, 1995). Formal negotiation was still a long way off, but these domestic “insider-partial” channels accomplished preliminary mediation. The central importance of an acceptable mediator is illustrated in President de Klerk’s attempt to convene the peace process in May 1991. After he asserted that it was the government’s role to keep talks going, and that he was in touch with all relevant parties, the ANC and other opposition parties declined to attend, forcing de Klerk to downplay the conference as the beginning of the peace process, rather than an end in itself (Gastrow, 1995). Facilitation by business and church interests also carried problems of legitimacy (Gastrow, 1995). Taken separately, these two interests were considered too partisan by one or the other side of the conflict. Together, however, they carried the legitimacy of relative balance. It was due to the active involvement of civil groups in South Africa that domestic mediators were successful in facilitating the National Peace Accord (NPA), and it was the NPA that brought the adversarial leaders together – first to sign the peace agreement, but also to initiate negotiations for constitutional reform (Gastrow, 1995). The central role of domestic civil groups in the period leading up to negotiations does not mean that external parties did not play an influential role, or that changing international relations did not have a role in shaping the hurting stalemate. By 1986, bi-polar Cold War tensions were on the decline, and U.S.-Soviet relations regarding southern Africa, particularly Namibia, were increasingly cooperative. Waning Soviet interest in South Africa meant a severe loss of military support for the ANC. At the same time, U.S. pressure on the government to resolve the conflict increased. Simultaneously, the collapse of the Soviet Union “deprived the ANC of its main sources of support, and . . . made nonsense of the NP’s claim to be protecting South Africa from a communist onslaught” (Thompson, 1995, 243). Landsberg (1994) warns against attributing too much causal influence to either external actors or the end of the Cold War. International influence was supplementary, but once the parties decided to compromise, international players were able to facilitate the negotiations through increasing positive influence (in place of the previous isolationist pressure). Once the state agreed to negotiate, its relationship with the rest of the world was immediately improved, and external influence became as important as domestic opinion in shaping the pace and content of the settlement. U.N. presence in South Africa followed the break45
down of the Convention, but the U.N. role was limited to that of observer. In addition, the U.S., Britain, and Germany contributed important security guarantees, insisting that all parties adhere to the agreement, and thus alleviating concerns that the ANC would disregard agreements once in power. Finally, in the final days leading up to the election, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former British foreign secretary Lord Peter Carrington were brought in as leaders of a mediating team whose role was more of arbitrator rather than mediator (Landsberg, 1994). This effort failed, leaving a vacuum that was quickly filled with the Kenyan, Washington Okumu; Colin Coleman of the CMB; and Michael Spicer of Anglo American. Their success in bringing Buthelezi and the Inkatha Freedom Party back into the election process illustrated that the decision to compromise had to be made by the parties involved (Landsberg, 1994). Usefulness of Bargaining Conditions Clearly, the “ripe moment” and mediator are useful conceptual tools, highlighting the factors that, when present, contribute to an overall political climate conducive to bringing the parties together at the bargaining table. Each factor in the ripe moment – the hurting stalemate, legitimate spokesperson, and viable alternative – represents a necessary condition at the proximate point of negotiations. In the South African case, we can understand why the adversaries, particularly the ANC and NP government, agreed to talk when they did. Both sides had come to recognize the weighty costs of the stalemated situation, and the potential for the stalemate to persist indefinitely. Both sides by 1990 had a leading representative who could not only legitimately speak for his constituency, but who was willing to lead that constituency into a settlement that would include difficult compromises. Further, both sides had already worked significantly toward recognition that there was, indeed, a viable constitutional solution offering greater benefits to both sides than the continuing conflict. These bargaining conditions, and the proximate level of analysis at which they occur, explain why the negotiations in South Africa happened when they did, rather than one, five, or ten years earlier. However, knowledge that the ripe moment must be present in order for negotiations to take place begs a larger question. How do we know – ahead of time – which conflict situations are headed toward a ripe moment, and which are destined for military escalation? We are still left without a theoretical understanding of why the South African conflict resulted in negotiations rather than escalating into revolution. In the next section, I argue that we must step back from the proximate level of analysis to understand the broader social context within which the bargaining
conditions emerge. The second and third theoretical dimensions – political opportunities and class relations, respectively – include, first, background structural factors that shape the reason for the conflict in the first place; and, second, changes to those factors that contribute to a more complete understanding of the historical trajectory shaping the ripe moment and leading to compromised revolution.
POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES, CLASS RELATIONS, AND THE CONTEXT OF CONFLICT AND COMPROMISE IN SOUTH AFRICA Theoretical Contributions of Political Opportunities and Class Relations Political opportunities and class relations direct analysis toward the state structure and larger socio-economic context of conflict. At the level of political opportunities, relative strength, or the balance of power between the state and opposition, affects the strategic options open to both sides. As long as a balance of power is maintained, neither side is able to bring the conflict to decisive conclusion militarily and a stalemate results. However, the stalemated conflict may be maintained at a low enough level of intensity that the costs are not great enough to warrant the risks of negotiation for either side, and it takes a moderate shift in the balance of power to give the opposition sufficient bargaining strength to lure them (and force the government) to the bargaining table. This shift in the balance of power, coupled with the heightened costs of continued engagement, allows both sides to recognize the hurting stalemate. In explaining rebellion, the likelihood of movement mobilization is related to regime repressiveness, the potential for non-violent expression of grievances, and the perceived efficacy of movement participants and leaders (Muller, 1985; Tilly, 1978; Tarrow, 1994; McAdam, 1982; Colburn, 1994). On the side of the opposition, popular support can expand and be further mobilized in response to several factors affecting perceived efficacy. Partial successes – such as concessions to labor strike demands or the relaxation of certain political restrictions, or even the experience of mass mobilization or community-level organizing – can demonstrate to the population that the state’s power is not limitless and there is, indeed, strength in numbers. On the side of the state, the potential for successful revolutionary overthrow depends on regime structure and regime strength (Skocpol, 1979; Wickham-Crowley, 1992). If the ruling party is unable to govern effectively – as evidenced by a prolonged security state, extensive human rights violations, or a loss of internal order – external supporters and the business elite begin to question continued support for the regime. Coupled with partial liberalization of the political system, breakdown 47
of the ruling elite coalition presents the crucial political opportunity shaping political party realignments, leadership transitions, shifts in official policy, and – finally – official commitment to real reform, reconciliation, and even legitimation of the opposition through negotiations. Changes in political opportunities, and shifts in political relations among elite segments, also correspond to changes in the economic structure and class relations. The complex relationships between class, ethnicity, and economic grievances shape revolutionary potential, and help explain the emergence of oppositional movements from below (Boswell & Dixon, 1993; Gurr, 1993; Muller & Seligson, 1987; Paige, 1975; Schock, 1996). In addition, class analyses can be extended to predict the potential for compromise of conflict situations. For example, while Paige (1997) focuses on shifting ideologies among the elite in Central America, his analysis also demonstrates the process by which insurgency from below forces a split between segments of the elite classes. Capitalist development loosens the historical interdependence between elites, thereby allowing moderate segments to ally with the rebels in favor of political reform, at the expense of the traditional elite and intransigent members of the government. Class compromise between moderate elites and the rebels is forged on the promise of stability and potential for future growth. The extent to which splits among the elite sectors effectively shape the ripe moment and the potential for compromise depends on the make-up of the government’s constituency. Further, the correspondence between class interests and ethnicity fluctuates over time, so ethnicity may or may not correspond with class position, and it thereby plays a meaningful role in refining and shaping the relationship between economy and polity. Finally, elite class interests are variously sensitive to international pressures, depending on the extent of the state’s reliance on external military support, sensitivity to fluctuations in global economic relations, and therefore vulnerability to private and state-sponsored sanctions. This third set of factors – the societal-level factors of economic grievances, domestic and international class relations, and correspondence between class and ethnic relations – do not directly impact the decision to negotiate. Rather, they shape the potential for compromise indirectly, through the political structure and opportunities provided by shifting governmental alliances and constraints to evolving policies. Finally, both societal level factors and changing political opportunities form the context for the first level of proximate causes, providing available “insider-partial” mediators from the moderate elite segments, and allowing both sides to recognize a mutually hurting stalemate and take advantage of the ripe moment for resolution. How well do the second and third theoretical dimensions explain the ripe moment and the potential for compromise in the South African struggle for
majority rule? In the remainder of this section, I consider the fit between the trajectory of events leading to the dismantling of apartheid and the second and third theoretical dimensions – political opportunities and class relations. Throughout the discussion, I highlight the link between the broader socio-political context, the hurting stalemate, and the ripe moment. I argue that three critical factors developed during the course of conflict that eventually led both sides to acknowledge the shift in the balance of power, and to therefore accept the situation as ripe for compromise. First, the South African state faced increasing pressure from within. Initially, the state was successful in repressing and demobilizing the opposition. Over the course of the 1980s, however, the mobilizing potential and salience of the mass-based opposition was increasingly effective against state legitimacy. Second, a consequential split developed among the political elite regarding state policy. Initial ethnic divisions between Afrikaner and British elite segments had softened over the course of development as greater numbers of Afrikaners joined the ranks of business. As a result, moderate segments of the elite became available to open dialogue with the ANC, and party and electoral splits on both the left and right eventually undermined NP cohesion regarding apartheid policy. Third, the South African state, already highly vulnerable to world economic fluctuations, came under heightened economic strain due to growing international commitment to sanctions and divestment. Taken separately, these factors (internal opposition from below; split elite; and economic strain) provided insufficient pressure on the state, causing no more than partial reforms and tightened repression – changes within the system. When they converged in the mid-1980s, however, these factors reinforced one another. Repression and partial reforms were clearly providing only temporary fixes to a long term and increasingly costly problem. Structuring Class Relations Along Ethnic Lines The early history of South Africa highlights the correspondence of race and class in structuring social power. White racial domination emerged with colonial settlement, continued through the establishment of the Union in 1910, and was fully institutionalized in the aftermath of the 1948 electoral victory of the Afrikaner-based National Party (NP).5 The governing elite enjoyed a high degree of consensus and group cohesion, and Afrikaner ideology and apartheid state policy developed hand in hand during the fifteen-year period following the 1948 elections. Apartheid policies included strict residential and social segregation of the races, as well as political and economic exclusion of Black, Coloured, and Indian South Africans. Through state policy, whites limited the supply of black labor, the level of black residency in the townships, and the organizational capacity of blacks, thereby coercively excluding blacks from both 49
the labor and consumer markets (Seidman, 1994; Price, 1991; Gelb, 1991). Theoretically, this sharp racial division, and the strong correspondence between race and class, forewarns of revolutionary potential. In addition, while the conflict in South Africa was principally between an excluded black majority and dominant white minority, ethnic cleavages between Afrikaner and British whites further delineated the relationship between class and politics. Among whites, NP policy privileged Afrikaner over British interests.6 While the British owned 94% of the manufacturing sector, British capital was relatively powerless in Parliament. Favoring white agriculture (predominantly Afrikaner) and white labor (also Afrikaner), the NP government promised to strengthen the “color bar” in labor. This policy of restricting blacks to unskilled labor benefited both agriculture and white labor, to the detriment of business interests and black workers. The state also facilitated Afrikaner access to business, awarding government contracts to Afrikaner firms, creating parastatal firms, and hiring only Afrikaans speakers in nationalized industries. British business complained, but business was not yet strong enough or unified enough to attempt to force a reversal of these policies. Although they did not always agree with government policy, and were generally opposed to what they saw as a dangerously inefficient system of labor segmentation, white business leaders usually opted to work for change within the system rather than align with relatively radical political parties (Kobach, 1990). Class and race in general, and class and ethnicity within the white population, reflected one another during the early years of apartheid, so that the structuring of conflict in South Africa initially flowed from racial and ethnic divisions, as well as from class relations. As we will see below, however, the correspondence between class interests and ethnic cleavages fluctuated over time, complicating predicted political alignments and the likely outcome of conflict. Capitalist Development: Blurring Ethnic Alignments within the White Electorate During the 1960s, the state increasingly centered domestic policy on the principle of “separate development” through “decolonization.” However, quality of life in the homelands worsened (including a shortage of housing, general overcrowding, declining health care, and a decline in education), so while the policy was popular among the Afrikaner electorate, it garnered little support in other circles (Southall, 1983). In the economy, this period was marked by several trends, including a decade of unprecedented growth, shifting relations among the economic elite, and dramatic changes in the organization of production. First, as is indicated in Table 1, growth in GDP averaged 7.07% between 1961
and 1965 and 5.48% between 1966 and 1970. Second, both mining and manufacturing were characterized by increasing capital concentration and technological development. For capital, this meant a greater need for skilled labor at a time when the color bar was strictly enforced and skilled white labor was increasingly scarce (due to upward mobility into civil service jobs). Third, Afrikaners began to own a larger share of the non-agricultural private sector, and manufacturing was accounting for an increasing share of GDP while the importance of agriculture continued to decline. From this period forward, white interests would no longer be segmented along strict ethnic lines; rather, a divergence emerged between liberal Afrikaner (big business) interests which generally corresponded with British capital, and conservative Afrikaner (small business, worker, and white collar) interests (Kobach, 1990). Although business was generally opposed to the government’s policy of separate development (as well as the accompanying mandate for geographical decentralization of industry), the stability and remarkable economic growth of the period kept business leaders from voicing strong opposition. Nevertheless, these various changes to the economy and class/ethnic relations foreshadowed important future shifts in political alliances. It was during this period of growth and stability that changes to the organization of production caused shifts within economic elite that had consequential, longterm political effects. In particular, the Afrikaner elite – increasingly independent of state patronage and control – was free to express its new economic interests (now aligned with British capital) in the political sphere. Throughout society, the rewards of a strong economy continued to accrue to the minority white population. Two pivotal causal elements of conflict and compromise are therefore present in South Africa even before the outbreak of violent political protest and insurrection. Widening black/white racial cleavages
Table 1. Growth of GDP, Constant Prices, 1961–1990. Years
ensured the eventual outbreak of insurrection; at the same time, interest realignments within the Afrikaner elite allowed for this segment’s eventual support for compromise. From Protest to Rebellion: Sustaining Mass Resistance The state did not implement its restrictive policies free of resistance. The African National Congress (ANC), established in 1912 to represent black and Coloured middle class interests, initially worked to reform the South African legal order (fighting, for example, to extend the Cape franchise to other provinces). The African Political Organization, the South African Indian Congress, and the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) provided alternative representation for non-white South Africans. By the 1940s, the ANC had broadened its constituency and radicalized both its strategies and goals. Cooperation between segments of the ANC and the South African Communist Party corresponded with the increasing frequency of various forms of non-violent mass action, including worker strikes, consumer boycotts, and acts of resistance against restrictive legal policies. In 1952 the Congress of the People, a mass convention of opposition groups, adopted the Freedom Charter denying government authority over unrepresented peoples.7 Seven years later, after the formation of the Pan-Africanist Congress, thousands of activists boycotted the pass laws by showing up at police stations without them. At Sharpeville, in 1960, one such gathering was violently repressed, with the police killing at least 67 and wounding 180 when they fired on the crowd. In protest, thousands of workers went on strike, leading the government to mobilize the army, outlaw all opposition, and arrest thousands. The effect of the government’s relentless repression on the non-white population was devastating. The ANC and Pan-Africanist Congress were banned, effectively driven into exile, and the South African Council of Trade Unions disintegrated. The state’s brutal response, successful muting of the opposition, and swiftness in returning the country to stability was impressive. At this point, the ANC turned (temporarily) to more violent means of resistance, including sabotage and guerrilla warfare, organized from exile. Meanwhile, the effect on the mobilizing potential of the workers and the population was fatal, bringing a defeatist outlook to the majority of black South Africans that could only be altered through time and the dedication of a new generation. As Zunes (1999) argues, the organized opposition recognized by the early 1980s that conditions were not conducive to a successful violent revolutionary campaign. The ANC had access to only limited resources, while the South African state had considerable capacity to sustain a prolonged campaign. Coupled with selective violent attacks, the opposition shifted to a largely non-
violent strategy of non-cooperation. Initially, community organizations and trade unions mobilized in response to localized, specific grievances (e.g. wage and working conditions, educational reforms, rent hikes, and community councils). When grievances went unresolved the links between generalized reformist policies and local issues became undeniable. Community groups increasingly pursued political issues, culminating in the founding of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1983. By this time, workers and students were mobilizing in concert: “When the Lekoa Town Council refused to scrap the rent increases, the Vaal Civic Association called for a general strike of workers and students in the townships of the East Rand. An estimated 60% of the area’s workers and 93,000 students heeded the call” (Price, 1991, 184). The ensuing battle lasted a month locally, but spread throughout South African townships over the next two years. In response to the insurgency, business politicization reached a new peak (Kobach, 1990). More and more business leaders were calling for an end to apartheid, although a smaller conservative, increasingly reactionary, segment demanded decisive control of the insurgency and a retraction of reforms. Positions were hardening, and crisis was imminent. South Africa and the International Economy: External Influence through Sanctions and Divestment Increasingly over the latter years of apartheid and in the period leading up to negotiations, external players attempted to shape the political situation in South Africa through various forms of sanctions. The threat of sanctions (military and economic; governmental and private) was a concern for the state as early as 1960, when the U.N. General Assembly passed its resolution against apartheid. The U.N., British Commonwealth, and Organization of African Unity (OAU) were the international governmental organizations most concerned with South Africa (Klotz, 1995). In 1962 the U.N. General Assembly asked for an arms embargo, economic sanctions, and diplomatic sanctions, and the U.N. Security Council adopted an arms embargo in 1976 but never passed economic sanctions. The Commonwealth passed the Declaration of Commonwealth Principles in 1971, committing to intolerance of racist policies, but it was not until the mid-1980s that the Commonwealth implemented restrictions on loans and military assistance. In contrast, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) presented a unified front against apartheid, particularly through efforts of the Front-line States (FLS) (Klotz, 1995; Legum, 1982). Private divestment led federal economic sanctions in the U.S. and internationally. When the U.N. Security Council and the U.S. government proved reluctant to impose economic sanctions against the South African state, student, consumer, and community groups targeted private investment and protested 53
against private banks, individual corporations, and institutional investors, including universities and local and state governments (Davis, 1996). U.S.-based multi-national corporations, financial institutions, and even local and state governments were increasingly proactive and attuned to public sentiment (Hufbauer et al., 1990). Initially, the U.S. tacitly supported the NP government, but by the mid-1980s, official U.S. policy changed to reflect public opinion and international norms. The visibility and broad-based appeal of the U.S. anti-apartheid movement helped change the political mood in Washington (Davis, 1996; Price, 1982; Thompson, 1995; Culverson, 1999). In 1986, the U.S. Congress passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act over President Reagan’s veto. Between 1985 and 1989, financial outflows from South Africa approached $10.8 billion, including debt repayments and capital flight. In addition, between January 1984 and mid-1987, 99 U.S. companies had completely withdrawn from South Africa, accepting drastically discounted prices. Driven by risk assessment, only 136 of between 300 and 400 U.S. companies remained in South Africa in mid-1988 (Hufbauer et al., 1990). International sanctions played a critical role in conjunction with other factors shaping prolonged economic crisis in South Africa. Sanctions coincided with non-violent methods of domestic resistance, including labor militancy and consumer boycotts, in accumulating economic and political strain. Moreover, the unique character of the South African economy and its particular role in the international division of labor shaped the emergent financial crisis from the early 1970s as a convergence of contradictory needs: the need to sustain capital inflows, the need to offset capital account deficits with current account surpluses, and the growth needed to generate employment (Kahn, 1991). South Africa’s position in the international economy was shaped by the predominance of the primary export sector (particularly gold), the increasing capital intensity of manufacturing (coupled with a stagnating capital goods sector), and a growing dependence on loan capital as compared with direct and indirect investment (Freund, 1991; Kaplan, 1991; Padayachee, 1991). Table 2 reports the contributions of mining, agriculture, and manufacturing to total exports between 1968 and 1987. Overall, mining constituted the largest sector of the economy throughout this period, accounting for between 44.3% and 62% of exports. Gold’s dominance within mining, coupled with the particularly volatile nature of the gold price, created volatility in the current account as a whole. The inverse relationship between the strength of the U.S. economy and the gold price has generally put South Africa’s business cycles out of phase with the core, generating problems for export expansion during domestic upswings (Kahn, 1991). Further, while mining was the predominant export
Source: Adapted from Kahn, B. (1991). The Crisis and South Africa’s Balance of Payments. In: S Gelb (Ed.) South Africa’s Economic Crisis (pp. 175–197). Cape Town: David Philip (Table 5, p. 73).
sector, manufacturing accounted for the vast majority of imports and growth in import value between 1968 and 1987 (Kahn, 1991). Since 1970, foreign capital investment and the emergence of a private international credit market worked to finance current account deficits and the gradual accumulation of debt in South Africa. Whereas political uncertainty in South Africa during the late 1970s led to a temporary slow-down in direct investment, both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and private banks generally showed considerable flexibility in granting requested loans and debt rescheduling in South Africa. During the 1970s, IMF borrowing was used to buffer the net effect on the current account of a falling gold price (exports) and rising capital goods prices (imports). In 1979, the gold price experienced a brief boom, but this boom had reversed by 1982. Dependence on the international credit market rendered South Africa particularly vulnerable to financial sanctions. A 1982 loan request to the IMF for $1.1 billion proved highly controversial. International outcry did not stop this loan from passing, but in its immediate aftermath the U.S. and the IMF reversed their standing on future South African requests. After this point, South Africa was forced to rely on short-term private financing. On the surface, the state initially claimed resistance to real change, responding to external pressures and internal solidarity with defensive policies meant to sustain the country’s economy and polity until international pressures waned (Klotz, 1995). The government mixed modest domestic reforms with regional détente to partially appease labor and community groups, minimize the costs of sanctions, and strengthen the case that South Africa was serious about reform. 55
However, non-violent resistance grew in visibility and effectiveness during the 1980s, coupling increasing frequency and duration of labor action with community support via consumer boycotts (Zunes, 1999). Price (1991) identifies 1988 as a transition year in business’ perception of the costs of sanctions. The expansion of “inward industrialization” had coincided with a small economic boom in 1986 and 1987, which temporarily bolstered domestic business’s confidence in the economy’s ability to survive in isolation. Growth was modest (see Table 2), and there were opportunity costs, but it appeared that the government would regain internal stability and hold out economically (Gelb, 1991). However, the mini-boom collapsed in 1987: “Economic expansion in the sanctions environment meant a short period of growth, followed by a balance-of-payments crisis, followed by decline” (Price, 1991, 275). Between 1986 and the end of 1988, imports had increased 60%, and foreign borrowing (with which import substitution is usually financed) was unavailable under sanctions. To business in 1988, the prognosis was clear: economic survival depended on reintegration into the international economy, which meant much more than partial reforms at home. The specific political steps that would have to be taken for sanctions to be lifted included both political liberalization and the release of political prisoners, in addition to all-party constitutional negotiations. From this vantage point, the escalated economic crisis of 1988, in combination with continued domestic instability, caused business elites to call for the normalization of relations both regionally and at home, thereby leading to an emergent debate among the governing party elite. The Convergence of Mass Mobilization, Economic Strain, and Elite Dissensus The state’s immediate response to the Vaal Triangle strike and the spread of urban insurrection was not one of heightened repression, but of stepped up reform. Whereas reform had previously been gradual and modest, reforms implemented after 1984 included the abolition of pass laws and influx controls, as well as essential business, residential, employment, and segregation reforms. All points of contention at the turn of the decade, these reforms were not actually implemented until the height of insurgency. The government inadvertently acknowledged the legitimacy of the grievances, transforming them into real points of contention. Instead of quelling black anger, they only fuelled mobilization. When reform failed, Botha declared the 1985 state of emergency, intending to destroy the opposition. Police and army troops, sent into the townships to restore order, arrested and killed thousands of Africans, with media coverage banned in order to minimize publicity of the attacks. However, the state continued to perceive its hands to be tied regarding the use of repression, so
that efforts were defensive and limited to “ad hoc police attempts to prevent large public manifestations of mass mobilization” (Price, 1991, 252). At first, the state of emergency appeared to bring the situation under control, and the initial return to stability aligned liberal business behind the NP once again. Although the extension of the state of emergency in 1986 did not receive unanimous business support, the NP again won an overwhelming victory in the 1987 parliamentary elections. While temporarily demobilizing domestic opposition, however, it contradicted both Botha’s reformist rhetoric and his co-optive strategy, which had the effect of heightening international criticism, bringing the call for sanctions to a new consensus, and further radicalizing the black opposition. South Africans seemed to be headed for large-scale, violent revolutionary insurrection. By the time of the second state of emergency, the state had begun to reevaluate strategy. Sanctions seemed a foregone conclusion, and the survival of the regime increasingly depended on a successful counter-revolutionary effort. However, the regime in the post-1986 period was no better equipped to improve socio-economic conditions than it had been initially. Under conditions of inward industrialization and a stagnating economy, the government had little room to maneuver infrastructure reforms or create employment. Finally, the government’s efforts to co-opt political linkages at the community level seem to have failed miserably. Price (1991) reports continued overwhelming (90%) support for local UDF organizations, in contrast with meager (3%) support for local counter-organizations. The NP government’s response to increasing strike activity and political protest beginning in the mid-1980s differed from management’s response. Within the context of the second state of emergency, the Minister of Manpower reversed earlier reforms by outlawing all industrial strike activity in 1987. In contrast, by this time labor and management seemed headed toward cooperation (Bennett, 1990). With the inclusion of black African workers in collective bargaining in 1979 and growth of the black African labor force, the organizational strength of the Congress of South African Trade Unions expanded rapidly, and strike activity escalated over the 1980s. Large scale strike activity resulted in substantial losses in both wages and production, leading to tactical conciliation between labor and management. By 1988, the number of strikes remained high, but individual strikes were more limited and less costly to both labor and management. Many unions and employers were beginning to channel their industrial conflict through the collective bargaining process (Bennett, 1990). As a whole, events of the mid-1980s had a powerful and liberating effect on black South Africans. First, community groups began to provide services where the government failed to do so. Communities set up alternative school systems, 57
providing education to students who had long refused to attend the increasingly under-funded, overcrowded, and ineffective system of Bantustan education run by the state. An emergent dual sovereignty clearly indicated to black South Africans that where the state was failing, the community could succeed. Further, the sheer magnitude of the Vaal strikes, the ensuing insurrection, and the failure of the state of emergency to completely control the situation, symbolized to many that the balance of power between the state and the opponents of apartheid had permanently shifted. This recognition of the increased power within the opposition had the effect of sustaining a continued level of mobilization at the community level, where local residents retaliated against local government representatives, perceived state supporters, white businesses, and state/paramilitary troops. Finally, paramilitary bands at the community level were ensuring that a state of emergency would fail to fully re-establish peace and security for white South Africans. Split Elite and the Electoral Politicization of Capital While apartheid had successfully structured a formal system within which Afrikaner whites established their upwardly mobile economic status, the contradictions inherent in that system were increasingly apparent, and they eventually came to threaten the transcendent principle of white supremacy. As Prime Minister Vorster had recognized, considerable reform within the system of apartheid was necessary if it was to remain viable. Prime Minister Botha, appointed after Vorster’s resignation in 1978, took the idea of reform one step further. He argued that apartheid would have to be dismantled if whites were to continue to enjoy their expected economic privilege, political power, and physical security. It was this strategy shift that allowed the first split within the ruling elite (Welsh, 1999; Price, 1991). Within the NP, a significant segment adamantly opposed change, and this “rightist” element eventually split from the NP to form the Conservative Party in 1982. By 1987, the Conservative Party posed enough of a threat to NP hegemony to garner 45% of the Afrikaner vote, thus limiting NP leverage in reforming apartheid. Nevertheless, as consequential as the Conservative split was to NP leverage in dictating policy, it never posed a threat to the overarching commitment to continued white political dominance. In contrast to the split among conservatives, the necessary split for the potential for compromise would have to come from within the moderate elements of the party. The first indication of an emergent moderate split came in September 1985, with the first “trek to Lusaka,” when several of the most prominent South African manufacturing executives met in Zambia with members of the ANC’s National Executive Committee (Price, 1991, p. 238). This was the first of several amicable meetings between elite members of business, clerical, academic, political, and other South African communities. The central
government opposed these visits but was unable to stop them. The emerging “split to the left” became gradually more consequential for the NP as previously vocal supporters of the NP one by one denounced official policy and publicly questioned Party reformist intentions in 1987. In 1989 the split was formalized with the formation of the Democratic Party, a coalition formed from the Progressive Federal Party and other small dissident-NP parties. The Democratic Party favored majority rule and proportional representation, which would ensure continued political voice for the white minority population. As Price points out, however, these splits within the NP represented a new pluralism within the white polity, not a new consensus.8 This significant difference was reflected in the 1989 general election results, whereby both the Democratic Party and the Conservative Party siphoned votes from the National Party center. In effect, the “left split” contributed to the weakening of central party cohesion, not a consensus for compromise, and certainly not acceptance of one-person, one-vote elections. Nevertheless, this split introduced a new potential for dialogue, particularly as the manufacturing elite was heavily represented in the Democratic Party. It was this segment that had its interests most heavily represented in negotiation. This new pluralism found its final manifestation in the debate at the center of the NP, between previously dominant “securocrats” and the newly emergent “internationalist reformers.” While the securocrats maintained that any move away from the state of emergency would pose too great a risk to the security regime, the internationalist reformers had come to recognize the status quo mix of international isolation and domestic conflict as much too costly. In addition, internationalist reformers saw that: (1) regional détente would be useless toward the international relaxation of sanctions without considerable domestic improvements, and (2) the domestic situation could not be resolved without inclusion of the ANC and UDF in negotiations. The final political opportunity that resulted from this split in the party was represented in F. W. de Klerk’s successful bid for the NP leadership and the Presidency. De Klerk, a leading adherent of the “internationalist reformer” perspective, represented a major turn in governmental policy (Price, 1991; Murray, 1994; Thompson, 1995). Whereas significant segments of the business elite had long given priority to ameliorating the economic deterioration and spiraling socio-economic manifestations (and had thus been increasingly open to negotiations with the opposition), de Klerk’s presidency represented the first time that government and business were aligned in support of real political change. And de Klerk wasted no time. In addressing the parliament in 1990, de Klerk announced: (1) the lifting of bans on the ANC and Communist Party; (2) the release of Nelson Mandela; and (3) the lifting of the state of emergency. Through 59
these pivotal measures, which took even his most extreme opponents by surprise, de Klerk had simultaneously taken the necessary steps that would open the way for real negotiations to take place and the majority of international sanctions to be lifted. This “left split” within the NP reflects the theoretical point that the symbiotic interdependence between the state and business elite holding under normal conditions becomes increasingly tenuous during periods of political conflict. While the state and particular sectors of business may or may not hold similar positions on policy issues, the two do share a division of labor regarding the societal goals of economic prosperity and social stability. In general, the state’s role is to maintain social stability, while capital drives economic prosperity. Although the NP played an unusually significant role in shaping economic policy in South Africa, business leaders generally attempted to stay out of policy questions even when they disagreed with them. During the escalation of civil war, however, business became increasingly willing to speak out on political issues, to participate in certain low-intensity acts of protest and non-compliance, and to organize politically in opposition to state policy (Kobach, 1990). In sum, the situation by the late 1980s had reached the point of prolonged inability of the government to suppress the opposition. The political opportunity structure looked much different during the late 1980s than it had twenty, fifteen, and even ten years earlier. The balance of power had shifted, and it was not within the government’s reach to reverse that shift. If repression could not stop the insurgency, and partial reforms were not enough to co-opt the opposition, then how would the economic and political contradictions, and the resulting civil war, be resolved? This would be the topic of debate within the NP for the remainder of the 1980s. Whereas capital had recognized the need to negotiate an end to apartheid as early as 1985, viable resolution through compromise depended on dramatic shifts in official state policy and political ideology. The opposition had successfully maintained a sufficient level of social unrest to alarm business and the white population, and the state continued to lose external legitimacy and economic viability, as well. The shift in the balance of power was visible to all, and its effect was to heighten the perceived long-term costs of conflict. It is at this point that the consequences of changing class alignments and political opportunities begin to converge to shape the hurting stalemate and “ripe” socio-political context for negotiations. The NPA as Compromise The National Peace Accord represented the culmination of the coordinated efforts of key persons within South African civil society. As Gastrow’s (1995) analysis makes clear, however, in many ways it also signified a pivotal set of political
opportunities. First, the signing of the NPA was a symbolically significant moment, as it was the first time the opposing leaders had appeared together in public. Second, during the design process, the architects of the NPA established their own working relationships, building networks and trust among negotiators. These same leaders would be involved in the constitutional negotiations, so much of the necessary bases of trust were in place. Finally, the NPA provided a preliminary set of agreements regarding fundamental rights and freedoms that structurally opened the way for multi-party constitutional negotiations, begun in December, 1991. The NPA represented major agreement on preliminary issues of peacekeeping and provided for institutional structures that would function, independent of the NP and the ANC, during negotiations as well as during the transition period. Institutional structures included national codes of conduct for political organizations and security forces, established to ensure principles of political tolerance and civil rights. The NPA also established the National Peace Committee (including representatives who had brokered the NPA to begin with), the National Peace Secretariat (NPS), Regional and Local Dispute Resolution Committees, the Commission of Inquiry Regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation, and the Police Board. In addition, the Accord attempted to address needs for socio-economic development.9
CONCLUSION The political-economic model described above is useful in understanding compromise in South Africa. The conflict clearly reached a ripe moment for negotiations by 1989: mutually hurting stalemate, acceptable mediators, and legitimate spokespersons characterized the conflict at the point when negotiations became a rational decision for both sides. These bargaining conditions are useful in understanding why negotiations in South Africa occurred when they did. The second and third levels of analysis, however, help explain which conflict situations hold the potential for the ripe moment and negotiations. Stepping back from the moment of resolution allows us to make sense of the relationships between political and social conflict, economic development, and the complex historical trajectory that South Africa followed to finally arrive at the point of the ripe moment and negotiations. Both the structural level of political opportunities and the background level of social structure and economic growth highlight the interplay in South Africa between domestic policy, social unrest, international pressures, and compromise. In effect the ripe moment represents more than the combination of a hurting stalemate, legitimate spokespersons, effective mediator, and viable alternative – these factors more accurately describe the ripe moment than explain its emergence. In addition, explanation requires identifying the necessary and 61
sufficient causes that converge to allow the “ripe moment” to emerge and fully develop. Just as rebellion and political conflict is best viewed within the context of political opportunities and economic relations, so too can a political economic perspective enhance our understanding of the potential for compromise experienced in the “ripe moment.” In South Africa, the ripe moment represented a convergence of three pivotal political and economic factors: (1) increasingly effective mobilization from below corresponded with (2) shifts in elite alignments, and (3) heightened economic pressure and international isolation. The result of this convergence was a crucial undermining of consensus within the state regarding apartheid policy, an opening of dialogue regarding the appropriate course of action, and long-awaited consideration of the alternatives to apartheid, the relative benefits of compromise, and the growing costs of continued conflict. Class Relations South Africa represents a striking case of ethnic conflict between, principally, an excluded black majority and dominant white minority, yet the two parties were able to work out a viable alternative to the conflict. This was possible because, while South Africa exemplifies ethnic divisiveness on many levels, much of the conflict eventually manifested in the economic and political realms. The conflict was not solely about ethnic identity, but also about the essential contradictions inherent in a capitalist economy structured to exclude the vast majority of its population. South Africa is a highly unequal society: the Gini coefficient in 1975 was 0.68, with 5% of the population owning 88% of personal wealth (Bethlehem, 1992). In addition, the rigidly exclusionary system of apartheid structured widespread economic deprivation among black South Africans. By the mid1980s, for example, the correspondence between racial status and quality of life meant that black per capita income equaled less than 10% of white income, black infant mortality was seven times that of white infant mortality, literacy rates for blacks were one-third the literacy rates of whites, and state spending per black pupil was one-fifth that for white pupils (Segal, 1991). In turn, political exclusion and economic deprivation fuelled long-term majority opposition. The insurgents’ goals centered upon de-racialization of the political and economic systems, as well as in education, housing, and health care. When considering the role of class relations in shaping political alignments and state policy, two lessons emerge from South Africa. First, the relationship between ethnicity, class, and political constituency is changeable, so that the interests and alignments of class actors remain contingent on historical circumstance. In South Africa, the NP government remained in control of the state thanks, predominantly, to a relatively cohesive Afrikaner constituency that
blurred class divisions. Afrikaner farmers, civil servants, workers, and small business owners supported a government whose policies ensured Afrikaner dominance and privilege. However, these same state policies also inadvertently undermined Afrikaner ethnic cohesion among the business class. By privileging Afrikaner-owned enterprise, the state facilitated that group’s inclusion among the growing class of large business conglomerates. Over time, Afrikaner big business tended to share the views of British business on political matters, and ethnic divisions were blurred within common class position. Loss of this small but significant segment of Afrikaner conservatism did not directly translate into loss of NP support. Rather, it represented the beginning of a liberal shift within the party and within the growing debate over apartheid. Second, the politicization of capital is never directly determined by class alignments, but depends on the particular convergence of extreme social instability and economic stagnation (Kobach, 1990). As Kobach (1990) illustrates, business leaders in South Africa generally refrained from making strong political statements – even when the apartheid strictures clearly contradicted their interests, and even during periods of economic downturn. Rather, capital intervention has depended on extreme political instability, which causes an immediate loss of business confidence. In South Africa, the Sharpeville massacre, Durban strikes, Soweto uprising, and continuation of unrest after the Vaal Triangle strikes all corresponded with economic downturn and the call for specific state policy changes by the business elite. However, it was not until the fall-out from the last of these political crises (the continuation of unrest following the Vaal Triangle strikes) that the state recognized the situation as a hurting stalemate. Political Opportunities What happened between the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 and the Vaal Triangle strikes of 1984 that caused such different outcomes to the public expression of grievances? In the case of Sharpeville, the government responded with swift and decisive repression, effectively muting the opposition for a full decade. By 1984, however, options open to the state had diminished as a result of increasing international pressure, the expense of regional interference, increasing domestic economic instability, and general failure to co-opt important moderate segments of the business elite and non-white population. Stepped-up reforms in 1984 served as a barometer: The state was visibly weakened, and the opposition responded to the opportunity with insurrection. The balance of power between the state and opposition, and thus the political opportunities open to each, had undergone a dramatic shift. At this point of heightened state vulnerability, domestic and international mobilization against apartheid was most effective. Community based insurgency 63
within South Africa maintained instability through all but the most severe repression – coupled with international opposition, the unfavorable business climate enhanced international commitment to sanctions against the apartheid state. Reforms had failed to quell the opposition, and the new level of repression reached after 1984 could only be seen as a temporary measure. Many segments of business and the state recognized that long-term solution depended on apartheid’s demise. In sum, the trajectory of events in South Africa supports the usefulness of the political economic model of compromise introduced in this paper. In South Africa, insurgency from below created and eventually sustained a prolonged period of instability that undermined the daily security and quality of life of white South Africans. That instability, in turn, undermined business confidence, which caused the politicization of domestic capital, the flight of international capital, and an eventual realignment within the political system and the National Party. By the mid-1980s, the balance of power had shifted in South Africa to the extent that the government could no longer control the insurgency and the popular opposition recognized its own strength and ability to force change. Yet neither side had both the military power and political leverage to win the conflict outright, and compromise presented the only available option. It was this shift in the balance of power, therefore, that allowed for the emergent “ripe moment.” The socio-political context of the latter 1980s was conducive to negotiations, and it was at this point that the various bargaining conditions began to converge. Domestic mediators, hurting stalemate, legitimate spokespersons, and a viable alternative to the conflict finally allowed all parties to see their way to the bargaining table, forced them to make difficult compromises, and – importantly – averted final escalation from insurrection to revolution. What can the case of South Africa tell us about conflict and compromise more generally? In the end, any emergent theoretical model is strengthened not only by elegance and simplicity, but also by explanatory power, scope, and comprehensiveness. South Africa illustrates the theory of compromised revolution as a whole, but one case cannot decisively identify the combination of necessary and sufficient factors explaining compromise more generally. This study, and its case-specific conclusions, point to the need for further study: individual analyses and carefully chosen comparisons, as well as cross-national statistical analyses of the population of cases of post-World War II civil war.
NOTES 1. Consider, for example, the scale of death elsewhere in southern Africa in this period: Mozambique (1,050,000 between 1981 and 1994, attributed to civil war and famine); Angola (750,000 between 1975 and 1995).
2. Conservative political organizations, on the one hand, and Black Consciousness and socialist factions, on the other, contended that their constituents were being sold out by the conciliatory stance of the NP and ANC leadership, respectively (Murray, 1994). 3. In 1986, Commonwealth members attempted to mediate, but the delegation acted more to pressure the state into a particular course of action. Two months later, the government attacked ANC bases in neighboring Commonwealth countries, demonstrating unwillingness to compromise. The mediation ended immediately, but a general model for compromise had been introduced. Later, Britain and the U.S. attempted mediation between the ANC and NP, but their efforts were seen as disingenuous (Landsberg, 1994; Thompson, 1995). 4. Not all South African churches supported reforms or the negotiation process. By 1986, however, even the Dutch Reformed Church (NGK), had publicly rejected apartheid, a major shift in policy that led to the establishment of new, splinter churches still willing to uphold the system (Welsh, 1999). See Kuperus (1999) for analysis of the largely symbiotic, if complex, relationship between the NGK and the NP government. 5. The system of apartheid in South Africa was based on race and class relations rooted in European colonization and competition (Mugabane, 1990). See Thompson (1995), Welsh (1999), and Wilson and Thompson (Eds) (1968–1971) for comprehensive historical analyses of South Africa. For a broader treatment of the southern Africa region, as a whole, see Omer-Cooper (1994). 6. Afrikaner and British rivalry was rooted in early competition over the Cape Colony, culminating in Britain’s victory over the Boer Army in the South African War (1899–1902). During the post-war period of reconstruction, emergent patterns of social, political, and economic relations included Afrikaner dominance in politics (to the exclusion of black Africans), English economic dominance (in the newly rationalized gold and diamond mining industries), and heightened levels of social conflict and white (Afrikaner) worker resistance. 7. Marx (1992) presents a refined analysis of the development and interrelations of major opposition movements and movement organizations in South Africa throughout the apartheid period. Jukes (1995) highlights the opposition leadership roles of Mandela, Biko, and Matthews. See also Holland (1989) for a history of the ANC, Ellis and Sechaba (1992) for the ANC’s relationship with the Communist Party. 8. Debate within the white electorate, of course, had been ongoing and included white opposition to apartheid as represented in the South African Communist Party and the Liberal Party. See Vigne (1997) for a history of the Liberal Party. Krüger (1960) and Kotzé and Greyling (1991) provide details on party politics and political organizations throughout South Africa’s history. 9. See Gastrow (1995) for a reprint of the content of the NPA, as well as a concise discussion of its implementation, including successes and weaknesses.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Southern Sociological Society Meetings, New Orleans, April 2000. Bill Winders, John Boli, Richard Rubinson, Terry Boswell, Mamadi Matlhako, Richard A. Garnett, E. C. Ejiogu, 65
Edwin H. Rhyne and Donald N. Rallis were especially generous with their time and ideas. In addition, graduate student and faculty participants in the Sociology Department Seminar at Emory University provided helpful comments on an early version of this research. Finally, the editor and two anonymous reviewers for Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change provided insightful suggestions, helping shape its current form. I am grateful to all of these individuals.
REFERENCES Bennett, M. (1992). Recent Trends in Industrial Action. South Africa Contemporary Analysis: South African Review, 5, 289–299. Boasson, C. (1991). In: P. van den Dungen (Ed.), In Search of Peace Research: Essays by Charles Boasson. London: MacMillan Academic and Professional, Ltd. Boswell, T., & Dixon, W. J. (1993). Marx’s Theory of Rebellion: A Cross-National Analysis of Class Exploitation, Economic Development, and Violent Revolt. American Sociological Review, 58, 1–22. Burton, J. (1990). Conflict, Resolution and Provention. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Colburn, F. D. (1994). The Vogue of Revolution in Poor Countries. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Culverson, D. R. (1999). Contesting Apartheid: U.S. Activism, 1960–1987. Boulder: Westview Press. Davis, J. (1995). Sanctions and Apartheid: The Economic Challenge to Discrimination. In: D. Cortright & G. A Lopez (Eds), Economic Sanctions: Panacea or Peacebuilding in a PostCold War World (pp. 173–184). Boulder: Westview Press. Ellis, S., & Sechaba, T. (1992). Comrades Against Apartheid: The ANC and the South African Communist Party in Exile. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Freund, B. (1991). South African Gold Mining in Transition. In: S. Gelb (Ed.), South Africa’s Economic Crisis (pp. 110–128). New Jersey: Zed Books Limited. Gastrow, P. (1995). Bargaining for Peace: South Africa and the National Peace Accord. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute for Peace. Gelb, S. (1991). South Africa’s Economic Crisis: An Overview. In: S. Gelb (Ed.), South Africa’s Economic Crisis (pp. 1–32). New Jersey: Zed Books Limited. Gurr, T. R. (1993). Minorities at Risk: A Global View of Ethnopolitical Conflicts. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute for Peace. Hampson, F. O. (1996). Nurturing Peace: Why Peace Settlements Succeed or Fail. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press. Holland, H. (1990). The Struggle: A History of the African National Congress. New York: George Braziller, Inc. Hufbauer, G. C., Schott, J., & Elliott, K. A. (1990). Economic Sanctions Reconsidered: History and Current Policy. Washington, D.C.: Institute for International Economics. Jukes, T. J. (1995). Opposition in South Africa: The Leadership of Z. K. Matthews, Nelson Mandela, and Stephen Biko. Westport: Praeger. Kahn, B. (1991). The Crisis and South Africa’s Balance of Payments. In: S. Gelb (Ed.), South Africa’s Economic Crisis (pp. 59–87). Cape Town: David Philip. Kaplan, D. (1991). The South African Capital Goods Sector and the Economic Crisis. In: S. Gelb (Ed.), South Africa’s Economic Crisis (pp. 175–197). Cape Town: David Philip.
Klotz, A. (1995). Norms in International Relations: The Struggle Against Apartheid. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Kobach, K. W. (1990). Political Capital: The Motives, Tactics, and Goals of Politicized Businesses in South Africa. Boston: University Press of America. Kotzé, H., & Greyling, A. (1991). Political Organizations in South Africa: A–Z. Cape Town: Tafelberg. Kressel, K., Pruitt, D. G., & Associates (1989). Mediation Research: The Process and Effectiveness of Third-Party Intervention. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Kriesberg, L. (1998). Constructive Conflicts: From Escalation to Resolution. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Kriesberg, L. (1996). Varieties of Mediating Activities and Mediators in International Relations. In J. Bercovitch (Eds), Resolving International Conflicts (pp. 219–233). Boulder: Lynne Reinner Publishers. Kriesberg, L. (1992). International Conflict Resolution. The U.S.–U.S.S.R. and Middle East Cases. New Haven: Yale University Press. Krüger, D. W. (1960). South African Parties and Policies, 1910–1960. London: Bowes & Bowes. Kuperus, T. (1999). State, Civil Society and Apartheid in South Africa: An Examination of Dutch Reformed Church-State Relations. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Landsberg, C. (1994). Directing from the Stalls? The International Community and the South African Negotiation Forum. South African Review, 7, 276–300. Lederach, J. P. (1995). Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Legum, C. (1982). The African Dimension. In: G. M. Carter & P. O’Meara (Eds), International Politics in Southern Africa (pp. 122–127). Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Licklider, R. (Ed.) (1993). Stopping the Killing: How Civil Wars End. New York: New York University Press. Marx, A. W. (1992). Lessons of Struggle: South African Internal Opposition, 1960–1990. New York: Oxford University Press. McAdam, D. (1982). Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930–1970. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Moodie, T. D. (1975). The Rise of Afrikanerdom: Power, Apartheid, and the Afrikaner Civil Religion. Berkeley: University of California Press. Mugabane, B. M. (1990 ). The Political Economy of Race and Class in South Africa. New York: Monthly Review Press. Muller, E. N. (1985). Income Inequality, Regime Repressiveness, and Political Violence. American Sociological Review, 50, 47–61. Muller, E. N., & Seligson, M. A. (1987). Inequality and Insurgency. American Political Science Review, 81, 425–449. Murray, M. J. (1994). The Revolution Deferred: The Painful Birth of Post-Apartheid South Africa. London: Verso. Omer-Cooper, J. D. (1994). History of Southern Africa. London: James Currey Publishers. Padayachee, V. (1991). The Politics of South Africa’s International Financial Relations, 1970–1990. In: S. Gelb, (Ed.), South Africa’s Economic Crisis (pp. 88–109). New Jersey, Zed Books, Ltd. Paige, J. (1997). Coffee and Power: Revolution and the Rise of Democracy in Central America. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Paige, J. (1975). Agrarian Revolution: Social Movements and Export Agriculture in the Underdeveloped World. New York: The Free Press. Price, R. M. (1991). The Apartheid State in Crisis: Political Transformation in South Africa, 1975–1990. New York: Oxford University Press.
Princen, T. (1992). Intermediaries in International Conflict. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Rabie, M. (1994). Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity. Westport, Conn.: Praeger. Schock, K. (1996). A Conjunctural Model of Political Conflict: the Impact of Political Opportunities on the Relationship Between Economic Inequality and Violent Political Conflict. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 40, 98–133. Segal, G. (1991). The World Affairs Companion. New York: Simon & Schuster. Seidman, G. W. (1994). Manufacturing Militance: Workers’ Movements in Brazil and South Africa, 1970–1985. Berkeley: University of California Press. Skocpol, T. (1979). States and Social Revolutions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Southall, R. J. (1983). South Africa’s Transkei: The Political Economy of an ‘Independent’ Bantustan. New York: Monthly Review Press. Stedman, S. J. (1988). Peacemaking in Civil War: International Mediation in Zimbabwe, 1974–1980. Boulder: Lynne Reinner. Tarrow, S. (1994). Power in Movement: Social Movements, Collective Action and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Thompson, C. B. (1985). Challenge to Imperialism: The Frontline States in the Liberation of Zimbabwe. Boulder: Westview Press. Thompson, L. (1995). A History of South Africa. (2nd ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press. Thompson, L. (1985). The Political Mythology of Apartheid. New Haven: Yale University Press. Tilly, C. (1978). From Mobilization to Revolution. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. Vigne, R. (1997). Liberals against Apartheid: A History of the Liberal Party of South Africa, 1953–1968. London: MacMillan. Walter, B. F. (1997). The Critical Barrier to Civil War Settlement. International Organization, 51, 335–364. Wehr, P., & Lederach, J. P. (1996). Mediating Conflict in Central America. In: J. Bercovitch (Ed.), Resolving International Conflicts: The Theory and Practice of Mediation (pp. 55–74). Boulder: Lynne Reinner Publishers. Welsh, F. (1999). South Africa: A Narrative History. New York: Kodansha International. Wickham-Crowley, T. P. (1992). Guerrillas and Revolution in Latin America: A Comparative Study of Insurgents and Regimes since 1956. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Wilson, M.‚ & Thompson, L. (Eds) (1968–1971). The Oxford History of South Africa (2 vols.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. Zartman, I. W. (Ed.) (1995a). Elusive Peace: Negotiating an End to Civil Wars. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution. Zartman, I. W. (1995b). Negotiating the South African Conflict. In: I. W. Zartman (Ed.), Elusive Peace: Negotiating an End to Civil Wars (pp. 147–174). Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution. Zartman, I. W. (1985). Ripe for Resolution: Conflict and Intervention in Africa. New York: Oxford University Press. Zunes, S. (1999). The Role of Non-Violent Action in the Downfall of Apartheid. The Journal of Modern African Studies‚ 37, 137–169.
alternative, model of medicine. Activists within any social movement do not always agree on goals and strategies, however. The aim of this research is to contrast the collective identity of “alternative” and “integrative” activists, and to show that the latter identity is gaining prominence as political opportunities become available to the movement. This research contributes to the work of contemporary social movement theorists who are examining the relationship between the political opportunity structure and collective identities.
INTRODUCTION This study examines how collective identities change when the political opportunity structure becomes more favorable to a social movement. I argue that San Francisco, California Bay area activists within the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) movement have traditionally competed with physicians by criticizing Western medicine and providing an alternative medical model for consumers. The collective identity of many activists within the movement, both as practitioners and clients, has in the past reflected their status as “outsiders” to Western medicine. They have achieved success with this strategy, especially since physicians and consumers are increasingly frustrated by their lack of choices and control under managed care. As an increasing number of consumers have tried CAM, the federal government has begun to support research on these techniques. Financial changes, increased consumer interest and governmental recognition have led to political opportunities for the movement. Activists in the Bay Area are beginning to form networks with physicians and develop an integrative model of medicine. Integrative medicine combines Western and alternative approaches. Consequently, some activists are changing their collective identity now that they are advocating an integrative, rather than alternative, model of medicine. I use the word “changing,” rather than “changed,” for two reasons. First, integrative medicine is an emerging trend so most activists are just beginning to change their collective identity. Second, I attempt to answer Melucci’s (1995) call to examine collective identity as a “processual,” rather than “reified” part of movements. Activists within any social movement do not always agree on goals and strategies. Some activists will always advocate an alternative medical model despite increasing opportunities, while others have always desired integration with Western medicine despite long-existing barriers. The aim of this research is to describe two identities that exist within the CAM movement in the Bay area, a collective identity for “alternative” activists and one for “integrative” activists. More importantly, I argue
that the collective identity of integrative activists is gaining prominence as political opportunities become available. This research contributes to the work of contemporary social movement theorists who are examining the relationship between the political opportunity structure and collective identities.
THE LINK BETWEEN THE POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY STRUCTURE AND COLLECTIVE IDENTITIES WITHIN THE CAM MOVEMENT Social movement theorists have increasingly understood that we must simultaneously study cultural elements such as collective identities and structural elements such as political opportunities (Taylor & Whittier, 1995). Tarrow (1994) defines the political opportunity structure as “consistent – but not necessarily formal, permanent or national – dimensions of the political environment which either encourage or discourage people from using collective action” (18). Factors external to social movements, such as support from the government and political elites, comprise the political opportunity structure. Activists develop collective identities within this broader “system of opportunities and constraints” (Melucci, 1995, 47). Social movement theorists have examined how activists change their collective identity when the political opportunity structure is more hostile to a movement (Gamson, 1995; Taylor, 1989; Whittier, 1995). This study adds to this literature by describing how activists alter their collective identity as the political opportunity structure becomes more favorable to the CAM movement. Collective identities transform individuals into political actors and unite activists within a movement. Taylor and Whittier (1992) define collective identity as the “shared definition of a group that derives from members’ common interests, experiences and solidarity” (105). Collective identities enable participants to turn their sense of who they are into a sense of “we” tied into a movement aimed at social change (Billig, 1995; Gamson, 1992; Klandermans, 1992; Taylor & Whittier, 1992). This transformation from individual to political actor takes place within “social movement communities,” which are “informal networks of politicized participants who are active in promoting the goals of a social movement outside the boundaries of formal movement organizations” (Buechler, 1990, 61). Activists construct collective identities within these communities by defining boundaries to differentiate challengers from groups in power, developing political consciousness to define their shared discontent and interests, and creating strategies to politicize everyday life (Taylor & Whittier, 1992, 111). Researchers linking the political opportunity structure with collective identities examine whether activists open or close their boundaries during hostile 71
political climates. Joshua Gamson (1995) argues that theorists need to question under what political conditions social movements need a stable collective identity. He suggests that closing group boundaries, one element of collective identities, is a necessary survival strategy. Taylor (1989) argues that social movement organizations can act as “abeyance structures” sustaining a movement during a “non-receptive political environment” (761). Though the movement operates on a smaller scale, activists sustain a collective identity that gives them a sense of purpose. Activists focus on maintaining their commitment, rather than recruiting new participants. Taylor’s research illustrates how feminists in the National Woman’s Party survived the hostile period between the 1920s and the 1960s by closing the boundaries of their collective identity. Whittier (1995), on the other hand, shows that feminist boundaries became more permeable during the abeyance period in the 1980s and 1990s. On the contrary, this study examines what happens to activists’ collective identity when the political opportunity structure becomes more favorable. Political opportunities arise when influential allies, such as physicians, make themselves available to activists or when cleavages are created among elites (Tarrow, 1994).1 Physicians are making themselves available to activists within the CAM movement. This is due to the growing dissatisfaction that physicians have with structural changes within medicine, the increasing interest their patients have in CAM, and the escalating attention paid to CAM by the federal government. First, financial and organizational changes in Western medicine, such as the development of managed care, frustrate consumers and physicians alike. As medicine becomes a for-profit enterprise, financial managers assume power at the expense of physicians (Gray, 1986, 172). Some physicians become frustrated by their loss of authority; whereas, some consumers become frustrated by their lack of choices in this type of business arrangement. I have argued elsewhere that this has led to a small, but increasing number of physicians who are beginning to search for alternative ways to practice medicine, as well as alternative means to retain frustrated consumers. Second, there are a variety of reasons, extending well beyond frustration with managed care, as to why consumers try CAM. For example, some consumers believe that CAM is more effective than Western medicine for chronic conditions such as back pain or arthritis (Eisenberg et al., 1993; Mattson, 1982). Two important points are that the number of consumers trying CAM is substantial and growing (Eisenberg et al., 1998), and that physicians are increasingly exploring these techniques due to consumer interest and demand for CAM. Finally, government sponsored research on CAM has made physician interest more acceptable. The federal government established the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as part of the National Institutes of Health in 1992 (formerly the Office of Alternative Medicine). More physicians are
willing to discuss CAM as scientific research on the efficacy and safety of specific techniques becomes available (Greene, 2000). Changes in the political opportunity structure help us explain why activists have been able to change their strategy from providing an alternative model of medicine to creating an integrative model that combines Western and alternative medicine. Physicians are increasingly interested in CAM given the changes just described. Yet, most physicians do not abandon their Western training or techniques to practice CAM. Rather, they find ways to incorporate CAM into their Western practice. These physicians are assisting activists with an “integrative” model of medicine, rather than an “alternative” system. This is the explicit aim of organizations such as the American Holistic Medical Association (Goldstein et al., 1987; Wolpe, 1990). As physicians advocate CAM, the hospitals where they work have begun to incorporate some of these techniques, as well. For example, patients can learn yoga and meditation at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester or the Deaconess Hospital in Boston (Barasch, 1992, 8–9). As activists begin to see opportunities to influence Western medicine, some shift their boundaries and political consciousness to reflect their new goal.
METHODOLOGY I studied the CAM movement in the San Francisco, California Bay area. Researchers and participants identified this location as an early and continued arena of activism within this movement (Baer et al., 1998; Berliner & Salmon, 1979). From 1996 to 1998 I conducted interviews, observed various organizations and analyzed secondary materials (Van Maanen, 1982). First, I interviewed forty individuals. Of the forty respondents, thirty (75%) were practitioners who used a variety of alternative techniques, such as acupuncture, massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, chiropractic, Reiki, Qigong and Rolfing. Though at the time of the study the remaining ten respondents were clients of alternative techniques only (25%), two of these individuals were training to become alternative practitioners, but had not finished. Overall,2 respondents were overwhelmingly female (73%) and Caucasian (97%), and ranged in age from 35 to 63 (mean age = 47). All respondents had taken some college courses, and 71% finished some graduate work or earned graduate degrees. Religious or spiritual affiliation varied greatly, though 26% said they had no affiliation whatsoever. Forty percent of respondents are currently married, though an additional 33% were previously married. Finally, respondents did not report their incomes accurately enough to ascertain a reliable range or mean. 73
After I completed the majority of the interviews, the second part of my research entailed clinical observations of a women’s clinic, a solo practitioner sharing office space with other alternative practitioners, and an integrative clinic that combines Western and alternative medicine. First, the women’s clinic offers a variety of gynecological services, both Western and alternative. Second, the solo practitioner is an acupuncturist who rents office space to other bodyworkers who each have an independent business. Third, the integrative clinic brings together a variety of practitioners, such as an acupuncturist, massage therapist, chiropractor, physician and nurse. Staff members work together as a team to integrate Western and alternative medicine on a case by case basis, rather than just refer clients back and forth as is the case with the solo practitioners. Patients may use Western or alternative medicine exclusively or integrate both types of treatment modalities. Observations in the three clinics varied depending on the type of access I was allowed and the number of interviews I was able to conduct. In one clinic I interviewed staff members and informally observed the setting and interactions while waiting for these appointments. In the other two clinics I interviewed practitioners, observed in the waiting room and interviewed clients before or after their appointments. In addition to the three clinics, I observed a professional association, with nearly 200 members, that is exploring integrative medicine. One newsletter said the group consisted of over 60 physicians, various alternative practitioners such as chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, bodyworkers, and a small number of lay people. Members educate each other about complementary and alternative techniques and discuss ways to integrate Western and alternative medicine. In addition to observing and interviewing members, I analyzed videotapes of eight monthly meetings and a professional symposium members had organized (Jorgensen, 1989, 22; Van Maanen, 1982, 103). Finally, I analyzed secondary materials such as newspaper and magazine articles, activist newsletters, event announcements, position papers and clinic handouts (Jorgensen, 1989, 22). I did not limit these sources to published material, because I was also interested in literature that activists would give to clients of alternative clinics or members of alternative organizations. This was not a random sample, nor were these documents representative of the movement as a whole. Rather, they helped me understand what was occurring within the movement in the San Francisco, California Bay area. Schneirov and Geczik (1996) argue that the larger CAM movement operates on two levels simultaneously. First, it acts as an interest group through lobbying groups such as the Nutrition Health Alliance and professional associations such as the American Holistic Medical Association, an organization comprised of approximately 350 physicians and osteopaths (Goldstein et al., 1987; Wolpe, 1990).
Interest groups try to mobilize support through advocating legislative reform, educating the general public, acquiring resources, and developing coalitions (Schneirov & Geczik, 1996, 630–631). Second, the movement operates in submerged networks of social movement communities (Buechler, 1990). Activists attempt to create and sustain an alternative way of life through sharing information (Schneirov & Geczik, 1996, 631). Submerged networks have played a larger role within the CAM movement than formal organizations such as lobbying groups. Building on their work, my data provide further information on both interest groups and submerged networks. I first describe the collective identity of activists advocating alternative medicine within submerged networks so that the transition to the newer collective identity of integrative medicine is clear.
COLLECTIVE IDENTITY OF ALTERNATIVE ACTIVISTS Alternative activists began by creating an alternative model of medicine intending to challenge Western medicine and influence individuals. These activists created boundaries that positioned themselves as an alternative to Western medicine. Alternative practitioners and their patients developed a political consciousness as they learned that others had the same frustrations and experiences with Western medicine. Their personal troubles became public issues that required collective, structural solutions (Mills, 1959). Activists turned their practice and use of CAM into a form of activism that politicized everyday life in order to improve upon Western medicine and support alternative beliefs. This collective identity, though retained by some activists today, was more prevalent at the beginning of the movement. Activists were trying to justify their place, however narrow, within the health care system. English-Lueck (1990) points out that this strategy was also advantageous because “any alternative system must define itself as narrowly as possible outside orthodox medicine. In the beginning, this [was] a wise strategy – orthodox medicine was unmoved by the intrusion of an upstart fad” (150). Boundaries Activists create collective identities that clarify their opposition to dominant representations, beliefs and discourse. Developing this collective or oppositional identity requires that activists establish boundaries that define who is inside or outside the movement (Taylor & Whittier, 1992). First, Schneirov and Geczik (1996) argue that activists construct “a moral boundary between alternative health and the outside world” by differentiating themselves from larger society, 75
which they describe as overly consumerist, undisciplined and passive (638). Second, activists define their interests in opposition to dominant groups since they draw a boundary between themselves and Western medicine. EnglishLueck (1990) positions CAM as “part of a larger social movement, introducing countercultural values and rejecting the dominant views of orthodox medicine and traditional authority” (2). In the beginning of a movement, activists need to assert their differences with existing models in order to convince the public that they provide a better alternative. An activist in my study explains that “in the early phase of social movements you have to justify yourself, and you put someone down to do that.” This means that alternative activists were competing with physicians (Rosch & Kearney, 1985). As English-Lueck (1990) explains: holistic health, despite individual allies within the orthodox medical world, is not part of the elite. In fact, for its own initial survival, it needed to compete with that elite . . . Each needed to define itself more clearly to exclude the other . . . (150).
Activists identified as alternative both out of desire and necessity. On the one hand, they “desire to stay outside ‘the system’ ” (English-Lueck, 1990, 155). For example, Kleinman (1996) examines a holistic health center where the practitioners and staff identified as alternative actors within an alternative organization. One member asked, if “we aren’t on the edge, who will be” (48)? On the other hand, activists are excluded by Western medicine given the competitive stance they had taken towards physicians. Gevitz (1988) says that “unorthodox practitioners” only share “alienation from the dominant medical profession” (2). Or as one activist in this study put it, “both sides are weary of the other.” In my research, the women’s clinic best exemplifies the boundaries drawn by an alternative identity. The director clearly states their position in relation to Western medicine in the following quotation: I think we were a decade ahead of what everyone else was doing. That was part of our problem. We were so sophisticated and so simple in what we were doing that it [was] difficult to be recognized by insurance, back-up doctors, hospitals [and] traditional medicine. So you [had] to work within that battle. It [was a battle], because in that model we [were] being an anarchist to the system [emphasis added].
Political Consciousness Just as boundaries are oppositional, activists develop a political consciousness that is based on opposition to existing frameworks and understandings (Coy & Woehrle, 1996). Political consciousness involves “interpretive frameworks that emerge out of a challenging group’s struggle to define and realize its interests”
(Taylor & Whittier, 1992, 114). Individuals begin to evaluate and critique Western medicine as they interact with activists in social movement communities. Activists do more than introduce participants to specific ways of believing and acting. Social movements need to enable individuals to blame their grievances on a structural rather than personal cause in order to develop an oppositional or political consciousness (Feree & Miller, 1985). So activists enable participants to blame the structure of Western medicine for their discontent, not their individual relationships with Western providers.3 Their critique revolves around Western techniques such as drugs and the way physicians practice Western medicine. I limit the discussion here to activists’ critique of Western techniques, because this is what differentiates alternative and integrative activists. I discuss activists’ critique of physicians’ practices under integrative medicine, because the newer identity shares this critique. Alternative activists believe that Western medicine is ineffective given its limited set of techniques. An acupuncturist notes that, “Western medicine has nothing to offer or what they have to offer is dangerous.” One chiropractor adds that Western medicine is “black and white. Take these drugs or have this surgery or that’s it. There’s nothing in between. [There are] not enough options.” Similar to Lowenberg’s (1989) findings, alternative activists in my research were particularly frustrated that physicians rely upon drugs that are ineffective at treating the underlying condition. A nurse says physicians overuse prescription drugs because they “have lost touch with any other way to cure people. I don’t think they know how to do anything but write prescriptions. I think it’s pretty sad.” A homeopath says that parents have “seen their child [receive a] fifth course of antibiotics, and [their child] still [has] an earache.” One holistic nurse explained that the largest growth in her practice was from parents seeking alternatives to Western drugs for their children. In particular, activists believe that drugs simply mask symptoms. In contrast, activists believe that alternative medicine “treats the source of the illness rather than the symptoms.” One activist adds that in alternative medicine the: healing process [is] different. They actually feel better from the inside and it’s a unique experience – not what you get from a drug – they are restored to a state of health you are supposed to have which is different from a drug that’s masking symptoms.
Specifically, many clients of alternative medicine have chronic or terminal diseases, as opposed to acute conditions. Respondents believe alternative medicine is better for chronic ailments such as arthritis, because it can improve their quality of life; whereas, Western medicine does not have much to offer. A respondent says: My own doctor says the hardest thing as a doctor is to have this revolving door [for] a number of patients [where all she] can do is give painkillers or some kind of maintenance
MELINDA GOLDNER drug. For example, people with backaches are constantly with doctors and very often they can do very little about it, or they can help the patient get over this bout of back pain and it’s back in six months again. Many of the alternatives help people to deal with that and get rid of that on a permanent basis.
Likewise, a woman studying Qigong suggests that “most of the ones who have conditions like cancer are the ones [where the] Western medicine profession says we can’t do anything else.” Unwilling to give up, they turn to alternative practitioners. A clinic director explains that “there are the truly desperate people. They’ve done everything. They are very sick. They don’t have options so they figure I don’t care if it’s the voodoo man, I’m going to try something.” As a chiropractor puts it, “some are fearful. They don’t know quite what to expect. They could be [thinking] I don’t think it’s going to work, but I’ll try it because what have I got to lose.” Activists see that Western medicine as a whole, not just their individual physician, has problems curing many illnesses and overusing drugs. Some activists gain this perspective as practitioners. To illustrate, a physician’s assistant said he grew frustrated with the lack of results in Western medicine since he “worked in hospitals and labs specifically, and he didn’t see people getting better. I kept seeing the same people coming back over and over again.” Others developed a critique of Western medicine when they learned that others shared their experiences as patients. Members share information and stories within social movement communities. One woman who organizes support groups says: There are people who come to the [support] groups who are very cynical about the whole medical profession. They’ve been put through the ringer some of them. It’s just a ghastly experience. Sometimes it’s been a year and finally the diagnosis is made and if they’d gotten it a year ago they would have been so much better off. So they come bruised, beaten down, very discouraged and very angry. They come here for healing. That’s what we are all looking for.
Members develop a political consciousness through exchanging stories and finding that they are not the only ones with this type of negative experience. This organizer goes on to say that people learn through these groups that “we are all in the same boat.” To illustrate, each week group members tell the others how they are feeling, and what is going on with their medical condition. Other members then get to: respond to one another because most of the people understand what the person’s talking about. [They] have experienced something very similar or exactly the same thing. We do not give advice. [Instead] they are sharing [to] affirm one another.
These stories also provide members with an alternative approach to health care. They help individuals who are sick “find someone who has lived another way” (Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, book promotion, Mill Valley, California, 10/8/96).
Activists must also begin to identify with alternative beliefs and practices in order to acquire a political consciousness. Core beliefs include defining health as well-being, not the absence of disease, stressing individual responsibility for health, advocating health education, controlling social and environmental determinants of health, and using “natural” therapeutic techniques (Kopelman & Moskop, 1981). Activists in my study advocate all of these beliefs. In particular, many individuals begin to realize that they are personally responsible for their health. Alternative practitioners offer clients more involvement in their health care. One client says, “I think part of it is just observing, and then becoming curious enough or taking some responsibility and realizing that thoughts are creating our picture of health, our attitudes [and] our reality.” Another client says she “self-monitored [my Grave’s disease]. I guess most people think it’s risky, but I think I can monitor my body.” An acupuncturist adds that when they see results they know “they have a part in that.” The women’s clinic provides an ideal illustration, because clients refer to it as “an oasis for self healing.” The practitioner’s role is to educate and “guide” clients in developing their “self-healing life-force energies” (flyer). The director remembers coming to this clinic as a client when it first opened. She had a chronic condition that physicians kept telling her was a “medical problem.” When she told the Nurse Practitioner that she thought it was not a problem but her normal physical condition, the Nurse Practitioner agreed. She recalls how powerful it was to have a nurse tell her she was correct about her own body. After that, she never had a physical problem with the condition again. She does not believe that her body changed. Rather, this experience with the Nurse Practitioner changed her knowledge and confidence. One client agrees with the director that this clinic is different because the practitioners listen and believe clients know their own bodies. She says that there is more communication with the practitioners at this clinic. She feels they really listen to her, and “respect me for being an intelligent person who knows my body.” Activists may have tried alternative medicine in response to their frustrations with Western medicine, but they stay with alternative practices because they believe that the techniques work and the beliefs resonate. “If people weren’t getting results, they wouldn’t continue,” explains one respondent. A hypnotherapist said that one of the other practitioners she works with had back pain that Western medicine could not help. Within a week of various alternative therapies “he was up and about. When that happens it does make a really profound difference in your life. You see that there’s something else out there.” Most importantly, these experiences have a transformative effect because participants turn their use or practice of alternative medicine into identification 79
with the CAM movement. A client says she is active in the movement, because alternative medicine has “changed my life.” Polizticizing Everyday Life Some of the first studies of the CAM movement noted that alternative activists were more focused on changing individuals than existing institutions (Alster, 1989; Berliner & Salmon, 1979; Mattson, 1982). They epitomized what Gusfield (1994) describes in the following quotation: Many health movements, such as holistic health care . . . [are] not directed at changing the state or an institution. Holistic health movements will have little impact on the state, nor do they seek it. They are dissenting movements within medicine, but do little to change professional medicine, develop new state laws, or protest current medical or hospital practices. They become arenas of action with little direct conflict with institutions. They are alternatives to professional medicine; they are not movements to change the medical institutions. In a sense, then [sic] bypass rather than change institutions (65–66).
Similar to other social movements, alternative activists have employed what Lichterman (1995) calls personalized political strategies (Echols, 1989; Taylor, 1996; Taylor & Rupp, 1993; Taylor & Whittier, 1992; Whittier, 1995). Activists engage in personalized political strategies in their everyday life, not through their participation in social movement organizations (Lichterman, 1995). Following the work of Gusfield (1994), as well as Schneirov and Geczik (1996), my study finds that the CAM movement is embedded in everyday actions and interactions in addition to organized and directed action. Some participants define their lifestyle changes as a form of activism, because they put their ideology into practice. These are “action[s] taken with the recognition that it is not isolated and individualistic” (Gusfield, 1994, 66). Membership is fluid in this type of social movement, meaning that “movements can have consequences and influence behavior without the kind of commitment or ideological agreement that is often posited for them” (Gusfield, 1994, 70). Many participants perceive their actions as activism that is connected to something much larger. In my study, activists engage in personalized political strategies when they choose alternative medicine as consumers. In contrast, practitioners deliver services, empower people and transform the workplace as Hoffman (1989) found with activists in other health movements. Clients believe that using alternative medicine is a form of activism, because their choices have political consequences. One respondent says she is active in the movement “in so far as I boycott Western medicine as much as I can.” Another client says that part of his activism is “letting people know what has worked for me. I’d be happy to give them my acupuncturist’s phone number.
[I try to] get people to move on things.” He adds that “everybody who knows me is much more open about acupuncture because of my experiences. A number of people have tried it because of that.” Using alternative medicine and sharing one’s experiences are both personalized political strategies. Activists empower themselves and others in order to make social changes. A volunteer at an alternative clinic says: I think change starts from within yourself, so that’s what I’m focusing on right now. Then [I will] empower individuals. I think working with individuals, the word will spread, not just words, but feelings and thoughts. So they’re more empowered because of their health. Whether it be political change or social change, they’ll be able to be more focused and more sensitive . . . That’s really powerful, I think, to let other people realize they have this unlimited power that’s inside.
He goes on to say that “protesting and boycotting [are] all good, but I just know there’s other ways of having your voice heard, and other ways of making change than [the] traditional marching in. Those [methods] are good. There are just other ways.” A homeopath adds, “I think the world will change more when people change rather than holding a sign. That’s holistic too – to have the whole person involved, not just what they say or do.” The relationships practitioners develop with their clients are deliberate strategies that address patient’s concerns with Western medicine and provide an alternative model of medicine. These relationships are the critical variable differentiating alternative and Western medicine (Lowenberg, 1989), and form the basis of the personalized political strategies that practitioners use. For example, practitioners transform the workplace into an arena for empowering individuals. Practitioners include clients in medical decisions based on the core belief that individuals must take responsibility for their health (Kopelman & Moskop, 1981). The director of the women’s clinic says that: instead of this person [physician] having all the information and know[ing] what’s best for you at all times . . . there is an exchange of information, communication and education that enables the person to heal [him or herself].
Practitioners and clients both see these personalized political strategies as activism since empowered individuals can eventually influence others and society. Similar to clients, a homeopath sees “activism as healing and teaching work – activating people from the inside out by practicing and teaching homeopathy. Joining a [professional homeopathic] organization is more outer preparation.” Individuals create oppositional identities through these interactions (Schneirov & Geczik, 1996; Taylor & Whittier, 1992). Social movement communities allow individuals to experiment with “new authority patterns, new forms of organization, and new ideas” (Schneirov & Geczik, 1996, 638). 81
Participants are also able to share stories and provide alternatives to dominant cultural codes about professional medicine within these social movement communities (Fine, 1995; Lichterman, 1996; Melucci, 1985). As the political opportunity structure becomes more favorable to the movement some activists will retain the collective identity just described; however, others will change their collective identity given their increased involvement with Western medicine and a desire to gain even more access. English-Lueck (1990) argues that movements organize on four levels; the individual, the group, the network and the community at large. Describing the CAM movement, she adds: The individual level is more important at one phase of the movement, the group in another, and so forth. As critical crossroads are reached within the movement, some practitioners will opt to stay with the stage emphasizing the individual, for that is why they joined (110).
In my research I find that some activists are beginning to identify differently, though, given that their position in relation to Western medicine has changed. This formerly narrow collective identity becomes less necessary and advantageous.
COLLECTIVE IDENTITY OF INTEGRATIVE ACTIVISTS The newer collective identity behind integrative medicine broadens activists’ boundaries, political consciousness and strategies. Examining transformations in collective identities can help us understand how social movements change over time since identities are not static (Coy & Woehrle, 1996; Melucci, 1995; Whittier, 1995). Whittier (1995) argues that even a few years can make a significant difference in an identity since attitudes, information and the opposition’s position change rapidly. Whittier explores how the collective identity of feminist changed as new cohorts entered the women’s movement. Following Whittier’s framework, I outline how some Bay area activists are beginning to change their collective identity from “alternative” to “integrative.” Activists change their boundaries, political consciousness and strategies as political opportunities arise. In terms of boundaries, some activists in this study have expanded their definition of “we” to include physicians. Physicians bring legitimacy and resources to the movement so this group of Bay area activists embrace their increasing involvement, even though they must make adjustments. For example, activists are very concerned with appearing professional since physicians are garnering more media exposure for the movement and activists are wanting to emulate physicians. Integrative activists are still critical of the way physicians practice Western medicine, especially their objectification of
patients and over-reliance on technology and physical processes; however, activists are less openly critical of Western techniques such as drugs and surgery. This reflects a significant change in their political consciousness. Finally, activists have developed a range of strategies to gain access to mainstream institutions such as hospitals. Attempting to influence existing institutions is allowing activists to extend beyond the personalized political strategies they were employing to change individuals. Activists are now seeking support from businesses and insurance companies. Opening Boundaries Boundaries identify individuals as members of a group, because they establish differences between themselves and those outside the group (Taylor & Whittier, 1992). In this way collective identities regulate membership and distinguish activists (Melucci, 1995). These boundaries make participants aware of their similarities with other activists, as well as differences from outsiders. Given changes in physicians’ attitudes toward CAM and the resources they can garner, some activists in the Bay area now welcome physicians into the movement. Activists alter their definition of “outsider” as physicians move from adversary to possible ally. Rather than staying on the fringe of Western medicine, these activists are trying to “bridge the gap” between Western and alternative medicine as one respondent said. Physician involvement has changed interactions within the movement. Activists try to mimic physicians’ professional norms, especially since physicians bring a heightened level of exposure to the movement. “Imitating the professional trappings of orthodox health practices can be seen as one practical solution” for gaining legitimacy (English-Lueck, 1990, 154). Activists begin to change their collective identity as more physicians join their organizations and practices. A practitioner involved with an integrative practice says, “I just see that there’s interest in alternative medicine. For a while it didn’t include many physicians, and now that seems to be one of the groups leading the way.” A physician is on staff at the integrative clinic. Physicians established the professional association, and one acts as the director. The latest figures for this organization’s membership show that more than 60 of the 200 current members are physicians. This study cannot determine the extent to which physicians simply advocate CAM or actually identify with the CAM movement. Yet, as more physicians explore CAM, whether they identify or not, activists begin to change their collective identity. Activists now call their work “complementary” or “integrative,” rather than “alternative.” A dance therapist says she views her work “as complementary. Clients would agree with that. A few people wouldn’t want to see a physician, but the majority combine modalities.” 83
Activists are willing to open the movement to physicians because they are noticing changes in physicians’ attitudes toward CAM. A Rolfer says she “noticed a change in physician’s reactions. [Physicians] have heard of Dr. Bernie Siegel.4 There is more popular awareness [among physicians] that alternative medicine can work in some cases, and that nothing works universally.” Another practitioner says she sees “a lot of AMA types reaching out for holistic healing.” A client even says she has been “moving back into including Western medicine, because it seems a little more open than it was.” In particular, activists recognize vast changes in the medical training that physicians receive. A practitioner says that: medical schools are starting to offer strong options for nutrition, acupuncture and homeopathy. It’s not enough yet, and it’s still offered on an elective basis as far as my understanding goes, but I think that’s where the changes are going to occur. [Medical schools] already are shifting so radically.
Seventy-five medical schools are now offering courses on CAM, including Yale, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Mount Sinai, Harvard and Columbia (Conan, 2000; Phalen, 1998). Activists hope that this education will lead to acceptance. A client explains: I have seen much greater acceptance within the Western medical community. There will be some level of openness as more doctors in training hit the streets. They were weaned on the idea that the Western scientific method gives us good medicine, but has its own biases and limitations. I know someone going to medical school and he’ll be open. He may be concerned with the amount of money being spent by the client, but not since he wants it. He won’t be inherently threatened. He won’t be trained in the “I am God” series.
Activists are also embracing physician support because of the resources that they bring to the movement, such as increased media exposure and public support. The media have certainly covered CAM more in the past several years. Due to their credentials and respectability, physician interest in CAM is responsible for much of this media attention. Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Deepak Chopra are particularly visible.5 In part, activists open their boundaries to physicians for the resources, such as media attention, they provide. Activists want to appear credible to these physicians and to be worthy of their participation. However, these activists also recognize that the movement receives more public exposure and support given physician involvement. As Lowenberg (1989) argues, “once a group of physicians started advocating these themes [of holistic health], the public listened. When less powerful groups such as nursing and public health had represented the same themes, they did not have the equivalent impact on public perceptions” (91). Activists are even willing to make significant changes to their collective identity given the power physicians continue to hold in our society.
Allowing physicians into the movement changes interactions between activists and physicians. One respondent calls herself “an evolutionist not an activist,” because of her desire to work with physicians. She rarely attends conferences solely for alternative practitioners, nor does she join alternative organizations, because she wants to maintain her legitimacy with people in the system. Activists who are working directly with physicians are also concerned with appearing professional. To illustrate, the professional association organized a symposium to educate practitioners about alternative techniques and explore ways to integrate Western and alternative medicine. Speakers explained a range of techniques, such as homeopathy and acupuncture, and audience members asked questions as to how to incorporate these techniques into their work. Members discussed professionalism throughout the organizing stages, especially since they wanted favorable media coverage. They had a strict dress code for speakers that included specific information on how to look best on camera. A professional meeting planner asked each speaker to prepare a one minute sound bite on their presentations in order to increase the chances that the local news stations would cover their symposium. One member said: they were concerned that [the symposium] came off looking professional, and I think they achieved that. It was not a scientific conference. It was more of a program that was orchestrated. I knew that going in. As long as you don’t masquerade as one thing and do another, [it is okay to do this].
This group had been interested in their public image long before the symposium. They have a public relations committee focused “on maintaining our public image.” These examples illustrate how members are aware of how they need to portray themselves professionally if they want favorable media coverage. Yet, members’ concern for professionalism is also tied to the fact that physicians were involved. One member said: [Physicians] are taking a risk [by exploring integrative medicine], and with good justification. It’s not just paranoia.6 They know the power of the state board and what it can do to you . . . And they see security in numbers. If they get a movement going that’s large, and therefore has political strength, they will be less susceptible to divide and conquer tactics. So they want [the symposium] to look good (emphasis added).
Activists use professionalism as a way to appear legitimate before the larger public and physicians within their movement. Activists believe it is advantageous to bring physicians into the CAM movement despite any changes they may need to make. Social movement theorists argue that collective identities can be “disembedded from the context of their creation so they are recognizable by outsiders and widely available for adoption” (Taylor & Whittier, 1995). Friedman and McAdam (1992) warn 85
against this. They argue that social movements should restrict access to their collective identity, because activists can then control it as a “selective incentive” or enticement to participate (165). If activists do not restrict access, individuals may continue adopting the collective identity without participating in the social movement. “Their very success in disseminating the collective identity undercuts their basis of existence, and the movement will die for lack of participation” (Friedman & McAdam, 1992, 169). For example, women may still identify as feminist, but not participate in the women’s movement. Feminism may fade because the movement loses activists. On the contrary, I believe that opening access to the collective identity to new participants, even physicians, during more favorable political climates, gives the movement access to a variety of resources and level of success previously unimagined. Changing Political Consciousness As activists open their boundaries to physicians they begin to modify their political consciousness. I already explained that alternative activists are critical of how physicians practice Western medicine. For example, activists believe that physicians are too rushed and impersonal so patients end up feeling alienated and disempowered. Integrative activists retain this critique of physicians’ practices, even though activists now work more closely with physicians. What is different is that whereas alternative activists also critique Western techniques such as drugs and surgery, integrative activists are more vocal about the need to retain these techniques in some circumstances. For example, a YOGA teacher says “that’s not to say there is not a time for the scalpel, antibiotics or an anti-inflammatory. There certainly is, of course. Everything has a time and place.” An acupuncturist adds that he “would never omit all of the Western technological help that’s available.” Participants are willing to discuss the value of Western techniques now that they believe it is no longer a question of alternative or Western medicine, but how to use both. Even though integrative activists find value in Western techniques, integrative activists blame medical training for the weaknesses in the way physicians practice these techniques. They criticize physicians for being emotionally distant, impersonal and rushed (Langone, 1996, 43). Western medical schools often stress detachment, or the impression that the medical doctor is personally disinterested. Hafferty (1991) argues that when faculty and students ridicule physicians who display emotion and question their abilities as physicians they reinforce this message of detachment (48–49, 76). Jaffe et al. (1986) suggest that medical trainers assume that detachment helps a physician survive in a stressful job. One client said, “Western medical doctors are trained to not get
involved, not be too warm or connected . . . There is no time, and they’d burn out if they tried to connect to that many people.” One female client adds that: a lot of physicians don’t receive training in what is traditionally called bedside manner. They’re not trained to empathize with the person. [Rather] they’re trained to look at this person to figure out what’s wrong with them, and give them something to make them better.
The result, activists argue, is that patients feel alienated and objectified. One client finds she has “very little personal interaction” with physicians. Activists suggest that CAM provides a better model. As stated before, proponents of holistic ideology believe that individuals are responsible for their health (Alster, 1989, 184). Consequently, alternative practitioners say they offer clients more involvement and control in their health care. An acupuncturist says she “thinks holistic health care is more personal. Rather than presenting yourself to the doctor and saying fix me, I’m broken, they can do something about it.” Activists also argue that CAM allows for an emotional connection between practitioners and their patients. “It is more of an emotional involvement in holistic health care than regular medicine,” because alternative practitioners typically ask about the client’s emotional and mental well-being, as well as physical health. Another respondent argues that “it’s more empowering to go to holistic practitioners . . . It tends to be more personal. You can feel their caring more. It’s not so distant, and you are not objectified.” Activists criticize physicians for more than being rushed and impersonal. When asked to define CAM, respondents were most likely to say that health entails wellbeing, rather than simply the absence of disease. To be well or healthy, one must have physical, emotional, mental and spiritual balance. To help individuals attain well-being, alternative practitioners address all of these aspects of a client’s life. They do not just focus on the diseased part of the client or the client’s physical health. As a practitioner says, CAM “look[s] at people’s health as not so much what’s wrong, but really how to make the most of life.” Activists argue that this belief, and subsequent clinical practice, runs counter to Western medicine’s focus on eliminating illness and physical symptoms. One acupuncturist says that CAM “looks at the true complexity that’s going on with each individual . . . Let’s not pretend it’s just about a lesion or a bug. That’s naive. People are more than that.” Activists continue to critique the way that physicians practice Western medicine and believe they offer a better alternative; however, activists are more vocal about the need to retain Western medicine, especially for diagnosis and crisis care. Several respondents said they would see a physician if they were in “a car accident,” or “hit by a truck.” One client says, “don’t get me wrong – there’s a place for crisis care, like with broken bones.” A hypnotherapist says that when clients come in: 87
MELINDA GOLDNER we always recommend that they see a physician, because there are things, like setting a broken bone, that doctors do and we don’t . . . I have nothing against conventional medicine. I know that in some cases it hasn’t worked well for me, and some it has. So when I get something, which I don’t very often, I go see the doctor. I go for check-ups and all those things you are supposed to do. It’s just that I would like to see a little bit more choice for a client.
Activists also believe Western drugs are useful for certain infections. “Western medicine has its strengths. As my acupuncturist has reminded me, don’t come to me if you have pneumonia. There is nothing I can do for you.” A male client says that “sometimes a physician is important to give a shot or pills to fight infection.” A female client said she saw a physician “to make sure I wasn’t being foolish and ignoring a symptom that should be treated by Western medicine. There are times when I feel like attack is the best solution and go for the drugs.” Many of these activists do not discount Western medicine, because “we take our miracles where we can get them,” as one woman put it. Activists believe physicians should use Western and alternative techniques within the framework of holistic ideology. Chow (with McGee, 1995), an acupuncturist and Qigong teacher, says she: considered the positives and negatives of both Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I decided to take the best of both approaches and blend them together to form a better system in terms of both cost and effectiveness . . . [She has] a very high regard for Western medicine, but strongly believes that if the impersonal high technology of modern Western medicine were combined with ancient Eastern concepts and practices, mankind would be better served (31–32).
A massage therapist adds that “doctors should be more tuned in to the holistic way of thinking.” Activists believe that integrating Western and alternative techniques without adhering to these beliefs “won’t get results.” Many feel that the worst case scenario is that physicians would co-opt alternative techniques such as acupuncture and homeopathy. Physicians would take over these techniques, and not use them in accordance with holistic principles. As activists develop integrative medicine, the extent to which activists will retain a commitment to holistic ideology remains to be seen. This study already found variation in how much alternative practitioners discuss the ideology behind their practices.7 Co-optation becomes a concern as activists expand their strategies to include engaging existing institutions more directly. Expanding Strategies Activists frequently base their strategies on the political environment, which consists of both resources and constraints (Freeman, 1979; Gamson, 1990, 1975; McAdam, 1983; Morris, 1984).8 For example, integrative activists retain the
same personalized political strategies integral to the collective identity of alternative activists. Activists continue to deliver services and transform the workplace into an arena that challenges the practice of Western medicine and empowers clients. One activist says the movement is “very grassroots . . . but at the same time I think you do need someone looking nationally, or at least statewide, to work with the insurance companies, to work with [medical] education.” Consequently, activists have expanded their strategies to include seeking support from hospitals, businesses and insurance companies. Jenson (1995) argues that social movements seek recognition of their collective identity by institutions, even if this means making some concessions to gain entree. Activists now desire integration into mainstream organizations in addition to the personal changes in individuals they have always advocated. Activists still encourage consumers to use CAM, because these individual actions have political consequences. In part, physicians are interested in CAM because of increased consumer interest in these techniques (Eisenberg et al., 1998; Goldner, 1999). Activists are now extending beyond personalized political strategies, because they are hoping to influence existing institutions, as well. Some activists are hoping to influence Western medicine by working inside hospitals (Barasch, 1992). For example, yoga instructors work at some Kaiser Permanente hospitals in California, the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester and Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City (Wolf, 1997). Activists also expand their strategies to influence insurance companies since they have a great deal of power. One rolfer said, “we are aware of the political side . . . We need to influence the powers that be. For example, we need to show the insurance companies that they will better their bottom line with integrative medicine.” He continues, “right now some [potential patients] call me up and ask if Rolfing will be covered, and when I say no, they don’t come in. So we need to push to get this changed.” Activists use several tactics to achieve this recognition by insurance companies. First, the professional association is providing care to a few individuals “in order to develop a database” on the cost effectiveness of integrative medicine. They hope that insurance companies will be convinced of the financial savings from these data. Second, several practitioners in my study encouraged their patients to “write their insurance company and legislators” when their services were not covered. Finally, the integrative clinic was devising a strategy for obtaining clients through businesses and insurance companies. Some individuals were unable to pay for CAM. The director realized that insurance companies and businesses often have more power in making these decisions than individual consumers. For example, employers often pay for an employee’s insurance, thus determine the range of options available. 89
Practitioners within the integrative clinic have emphasized cost-savings, and de-emphasized holistic ideology in order to obtain clients through insurance companies and businesses. Most of their fliers say they provide “effective, efficient and affordable” care. By emphasizing results and cost-savings, this clinic is trying to work within the existing cultural framework and speak the language of businesses. They do not discuss their ideology, because they do not want employers or clients to think that they need to believe in holistic principles to get results. Therefore, the director said he would approach companies by saying “forget all of the philosophy. We can help your employees stay healthier . . . ” He continues on to say, “I’m very careful about talking about this in general. When I speak in public it’s more about building bridges with the mainstream, [and] trying to be very, very inoffensive without compromising [the] basic principles.” Hunt et al. (1994) explain that when movements interact with mainstream institutions, activists try to “talk their language.” Activists may examine “audience” identities to determine how to obtain their support. For example, a member of Nebraskans for Peace says that their organization realizes that elected officials face financial constraints so activists emphasize the financial “bottom line” when they discuss movement issues with these politicians (200). Hunt et al. (1994) argue that we have to examine the collective identity of the “antagonist” and “audience,” not just the “protagonists,” since identities are social constructions (192). Similarly, Coy and Woehrle (1996) argue that activists “shaped their oppositional voices so they could be heard and accepted by specific audiences” (287). Integrative activists want to change more than individuals. They want their ideas and techniques to transform Western medicine and financial organizations. Activists open their boundaries to physicians because they bring increased exposure, legitimacy and allies to the movement. This means they must moderate their political consciousness so as not to exclude physicians or their techniques. As activists open their boundaries and modify their political consciousness, physicians and their patients become potential recruits. The extent to which physicians have actually joined the CAM movement, rather than simply supporting its goals, cannot be answered from this study. Yet, activists have new opportunities to influence Western medicine, insurance companies and the society at large through their associations with physicians, whether they are activists within the movement or not. Activists are willing to forge new relationships with their former opposition, since physicians can help the movement achieve even greater success. Not every activist will change his or her collective identity as the political opportunity structure becomes more favorable, so multiple identities now exist within the CAM movement. Some activists will resist integration with Western
medicine, because they fear co-optation. Other activists have always advocated integration, but have been unsuccessful with this goal until recently. Yet, I have shown that many activists in the Bay area acquire this newer collective identity of integrative medicine as opportunities have expanded for the movement. Considerably more activists advocated integrative medicine as opposed to alternative medicine. Integrative activists included those respondents affiliated with the integrative clinic and professional association. This variation in identities best reflects an activist’s degree of contact with Western medicine, as English-Lueck (1990) found. For example, practitioners within the integrative clinic were more aligned with the collective identity of integrative medicine than the women’s clinic. This was due to the fact that they worked with Western medical providers and institutions more directly, as I just described. Physicians’ attitudes toward specific forms of CAM will influence the amount and type of contact that activists can have with Western medicine. One activist explains that marginalized alternative practitioners will be more likely to advocate alternative medicine; whereas, alternative practitioners, whose techniques are more accepted by physicians, will be more likely to pursue integrative medicine. I discuss later how physicians feel about specific alternative techniques. What is important here is that variation in identities cannot be explained by which form of CAM activists used or practiced. For example, two respondents, both involved with Qigong, nonetheless identified differently. The same was true for two respondents both affiliated with homeopathy. There are limitations with these data since I conducted a small, non-representative study of activists in one area, and not every respondent spoke to this issue directly since this research was exploratory. We need more data to clarify how significant this change is, and what factors can explain why activists choose one identity over the other. The question becomes how will this newer collective identity affect the larger CAM movement and the level of success activists can achieve? To what extent will the movement begin to advocate integrative, rather than alternative, medicine? Other researchers have suggested that more activists prefer the goal of integrative medicine (Goldstein, 1999; Sharma, 1992). For example, Goldstein (1999) argues that “most alternative practitioners and advocates see this process of assimilation as a good thing” (226) (emphasis added). However, the debate over whether to institutionalize may lead to divisions within the movement (Reinelt, 1995; Spalter-Roth & Schreiber, 1995), possibly diminishing the level of success or leading to the demise of one faction. Differing perceptions of appropriate identities and strategies could also divide activists into two separate, but co-existing social movements: an alternative and an integrative medicine movement. Integrative medicine could remain as a new 91
collective identity or emerge into a new social movement. Another possible outcome is that integrative medicine becomes co-opted. I explore this next.
CONCLUSION New political opportunities are allowing activists in the Bay area to work more closely with physicians, thereby changing their collective identity. The increased complexity and scale of the medical field have led to new financial arrangements within Western medicine. Medicine has been transformed into a health care industry where profit, efficiency, financial managers and consumers take center stage. One physician suggested that people in his profession are now “outsiders” due to changes in medical reimbursement. Given the resulting dissatisfaction, some physicians are turning to complementary and alternative medicine for a solution. Other physicians are examining these techniques given increased consumer interest and governmental research. Activists see this opening in the political opportunity structure as an opportunity to work with physicians to integrate Western and alternative medicine. This study shows how some activists change their collective identity as a result. However, the outcome of this new strategy is far from clear. Following the work of recent social movement theorists, my study examines how activists transform their collective identity when they take advantage of expanding political opportunities. Physicians bring significant resources to the movement. For example, their power and legitimacy can influence insurance companies and businesses to support alternative techniques. Consequently, some activists willingly open their boundaries to physicians and change their political consciousness for both ideological and practical reasons. Holistic ideology states that practitioners need to use multiple therapies since they address more than physical symptoms; rather, practitioners need to examine how illness can result from emotional, spiritual and social problems, as well (Alster, 1989, 61). Activists have an “expanded selection of tools for helping patients” when they work with physicians (newsletter of the professional association). Practically, activists realize that the movement gains potential patients if they moderate their stance to advocate alternative techniques as a complement to, rather than replacement for, Western medicine. Fewer individuals are willing to use CAM if it means abandoning Western practices. Some activists alter their collective identity to bring increased resources to the movement. On a strategic level, alternative practitioners know they will gain legitimacy and possibly insurance reimbursement if they work with recognized medical professionals with more power and authority in our society. Activists within the CAM movement have started to advocate integrative medicine as a practical strategy to ensure their
survival in a political climate that is more favorable, but still volatile and unpredictable. This strategy of integration is not without drawbacks. Most importantly, co-optation is always possible once activists achieve some success and interact more closely with established actors. The social movement literature has increasingly examined how institutional actors co-opt activists leading the movement to de-radicalize over time. Gamson (1975/1990) was one of the first social movement theorists to define co-optation, and others have built upon his work (Amenta et al., 1992; Cress & Snow 2000). He identifies four possible outcomes based upon whether activists receive new advantages and gain acceptance as a spokesperson with legitimate interests; co-optation, full response, preemption and collapse. Co-optation means that activists win full acceptance, but no new advantages for the movement. The CAM movement could be co-opted in several ways. One possible scenario is where physicians increasingly accept CAM. Yet, physicians practice these techniques themselves, without proper training and without the corresponding holistic ideology. This means the CAM movement gains acceptance, but no new advantages. Physicians have already begun to co-opt alternative techniques. In their review of the literature, Astin et al. (1998) found that, on average, 19% of physicians practiced massage and chiropractic, 17% offered acupuncture, and 16% used herbal therapy in their medical practices (2305). One respondent in my research noted that, “some [physicians] want to collaborate in group practices with a nutritionist, chiropractor, body worker, and use their knowledge. Some are doing that, but others may say I need to learn more about nutrition so I can prescribe it.” Given the diversity of techniques and practices included under CAM, physicians are more likely to co-opt some techniques than others. To illustrate, Mattson (1982) argues that techniques for stress management, such as meditation, would be the easiest to integrate into Western medicine; whereas, any form of CAM that includes a spiritual principle or practice would be much harder to incorporate. Baer et al. (1997), also examining the CAM movement in the Bay area, discuss the possibility of physicians co-opting acupuncture “not so much for philosophical reasons as fiscal ones” (536). Wardwell (1994), as well as Goldstein et al. (1985) and Wolpe (1985), go further to suggest that acupuncture has already been co-opted to the point where it is rarely considered alternative. Much like what happened to the “medical accommodation” of alternative birth centers, physicians could co-opt these practices based upon the need for “medical supervision” (DeVries, 1984, 89, 97). Activists try to achieve legitimacy by asserting their credentials, as Coy and Woehrle (1996) explain. Yet, physicians have more prestige in our society given the credentials they establish through extended medical education (Starr, 1982). This type of 93
co-optation, where physicians usurp alternative practitioners’ techniques, is particularly difficult. As my respondents noted, it confines many activists to a “bitter role” since they “aren’t part of it” when Western medicine and CAM merge. Physicians and insurance companies “get all the glory and control” (and financial compensation) even though activists have done all the work. In short, the opposition receives credit for the movement’s ideas at the same time that they exclude activists from the process of change. Activists are especially concerned that physicians are not adequately trained in these techniques, and that physicians will use these alternative techniques without the corresponding holistic principles. I will use acupuncture and herbs to illustrate these forms of co-optation. First, an acupuncturist without a medical degree needs 2,400 hours of clinical training and experience for a license to practice acupuncture; whereas, a physician needs only 200 hours for certification (Phalen, 1998, 38). One acupuncturist said that you simply cannot learn the theory behind these practices in such a short time period. He adds that “they wouldn’t let me do needle biopsy” after simply reading a book on the subject. Thus, he says that “MD’s can practice acupuncture legally, but not well.” The resulting patient dissatisfaction, which acupuncturists in this study feel is inevitable, may reflect negatively on acupuncturists as a whole, however. Second, a physician may practice acupuncture, but not stress the connections between the mind and the body. By doing this, the physician is separating the technique of acupuncture from the alternative beliefs underlying this practice. This is especially likely among physicians who are motivated by financial gain, because it is time consuming (thus costly) for them to practice these techniques within the context of alternative beliefs. For example, it takes more time for an acupuncturist to ask a patient about his or her well-being and teach this patient about lifestyle changes, than it is simply to insert acupuncture needles. One respondent knew of an acupuncturist who stopped training someone for this reason. This student was “abbreviating his training to incorporate it into an HMO, which accepts anything as reasonable as long as you can see six clients in an hour. That’s where it goes awry.” Another example he provided is that physicians may simply “use herbs like prescription drugs.” They will be “ineffective” if they are used in this way, though, because he believes that herbs are only effective if used in accordance with