Unpacking Discontent: Where and why protest happens in South Africa


  • Lizette Lancaster Institute for Security Studies




High levels of socio-economic dissatisfaction, persistent service delivery issues and increased political contestation necessitate closer monitoring of protest action. This article focuses on where and why protests happen. The findings draw on data collected by the Institute for Security Studies through its Protest and Public Violence Monitor (PPVM). Unlike other reporting systems, which tend to focus on specific types of protest, the PPVM seeks to provide comprehensive coverage and mapping of all forms of protest, including industrial strike action as well as political and group conflict. The findings highlight the wide-ranging nature of protests and illustrate how patterns of protests form over time in specific places. The article concludes by reflecting on how research into protest should not limit itself in scope. The ultimate aim of the research should be to inform the development of more appropriate responses by various role players to prevent violence and to encourage peaceful protests.


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Author Biography

Lizette Lancaster, Institute for Security Studies

Lizette Lancaster manages and has overseen the creation of the South African Crime and Justice Information and Analysis Hub of the Institute for Security Studies’ Justice and Violence Prevention Programme. Her focus is the collection, analysis and dissemination of data and information to promote evidence-based crime- and violence-reduction policies and strategies.






Research articles