A comparative analysis of the democratic character of politics within the Afrikaner political system

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Johnson, William C.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


South Africa--Politics and government--1948-1961; South Africa--Politics and government--1961-1978


This is a study of politics within the Afrikaner political community in South Africa. For purposes of analysis the Afrikaner political subsystem will be dealt with as an autonomous system. This is possible because of the fragmented nature of social groups in South Africa. The hypothesis of this study is that the Nationalist form of government is functional for the expression of a democratic ethos in the Afrikaner political system. Implicitly, the study determines the manner in which the Nationalist elite is able to use this democratic ethos as a mechanism for control of South African society. The method used is based upon theoretical analysis in comparative politics. Gabriel Almond's functional approach is used to determine the functions which are inherent in every political system: socialization, communication, interest articulation, aggregation and the governmental functions of rule-making, rule-application and rule-adjudication. Each of these functions is the basis of a chapter. Each chapter begins by setting forth the criteria which would allow that particular function to be characterized as democratic. Then, an analysis of the operation of the Afrikaner political system is based on that criteria. The chapter concludes with a summary of the democratic nature of that function. Based upon the data, it was found that the communication and aggregation functions operated in a relatively free manner. For example, Afrikaners were free to go to the polls and choose between two sets of competing elites. However, the ability of the Nationalists to mobilize support in these functions is based upon efficient use of the socialization and interest articulation functions. The Nationalists have attempted to exclude the influence of competing elites in these areas. For example, in socialization the concept of Christian National Education stresses that Afrikaners should be free to adhere to their own community patterns. The governmental functions mirror both of the above patterns. The Nationalist elite is supported by the Afrikaner population in the free and open competition taking place in the Afrikaner community. Even though some Nationalist methods are open to question as to their propriety, the Afrikaner feels that this political system maximizes his freedom. Therefore, he gives it his support.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [108]-113)


iii, 113 pages




Northern Illinois University

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