Working paper 6 Rina Alluri
This article contests the role of social actors within a democratic context by looking at post-apartheid social movements in general and the case study of the Treatment Action Campaign in particular. By illustrating the structure, activities, goals and accomplishments of the Treatment Action Campaign up until the end of 2006, this work will argue that it represents an innovation in social movements in South Africa via its unique strategies and networks that have transformed the issue of HIV/AIDS from a health and service delivery problem, to a political and economic struggle that affects all people.
The comparison between primary research conducted in the TAC National Office and interviewing other civil society actors with secondary material on social movements and the South African environment demonstrates that there is often a gap between theory and practice. Further the debate surrounding the ‘naming’ of social movements in South Africa raises questions around the accuracy of the terminology used to describe such groups and organizations which aim towards social transformation via a variety of approaches and techniques. It argues that the use of social movement theory according to Porta and Diani (1999) and others is essential in analyzing the characteristics of a social movement but not adequate.a.