Class and Consciousness: The Black Petty Bourgeoisie in South Africa, 1924 to 1950

Class and Consciousness: The Black Petty Bourgeoisie in South Africa, 1924 to 1950

Class and Consciousness: The Black Petty Bourgeoisie in South Africa, 1924 to 1950

Class and Consciousness: The Black Petty Bourgeoisie in South Africa, 1924 to 1950

Synopsis

A valuable source for anyone interested in modern South African history, this is the first book to discuss the emergence and nature of the black bourgeoisie in South Africa in its historical context as a class in itself and for itself.' The book investigates the economics background, social origins, and cultural consciousness of the black petty bourgeoise and how it deployed a wide range of class-specific social and cultural networks. It also considers the influence of special cultural factors, entrepreneurial ideologies and experiences, and radical ideologies and experiences.

Excerpt

The dwarf sees farther than the giant, when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on.

--From 'The Friend', essay 8, by S. T. Coleridge

The judgments of posterity on the pioneers of black political struggle in South Africa in the first half of this century have not always been kind. in the radical historiography in particular, parts of the history of black political leadership have sometimes been dismissed as a catalogue of failure and craven compromise. This book seeks to demonstrate that such judgments are both ahistorical and irrelevant. It is only by studying black political leadership in the context of the class struggle from which it emerged that the constraints and difficulties under which this leadership laboured become apparent.

It is difficult, from the viewpoint of an academic study, to evoke the grinding economic and social pressures which were the central facts of black community life in South Africa. To the extent that members of the black petty bourgeoisie were able to overcome these conditions in their own time in order to provide their communities with articulate and coherent leadership, they may indeed by described in Coleridge's terms as 'giants'. the modern black nationalist struggle and much of the social and political identity of modern black communities in South Africa were built on their shoulders. Indeed, the over-riding sense derived from the study of South Africa's black petty bourgeoisie before 1950 is of a vibrant and resilient group characterised by dedication, ingenuity and achievement in the face of . . .

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