The 'born frees': the prospects for generational change In post-apartheid South Africa

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South Africa's 1996 Constitution ushered in a democratic regime that brought new freedoms and rights and greatly expanded opportunities for political participation. In 1998, South Africa also implemented a new school curriculum intended, among other things, to promote democratic and other constitutional values. At the same time, South Africa has undergone rapid demographic change as growing proportions of young people enter the electorate with no working memory of apartheid. Given our knowledge of post-regime change shifts in popular attitudes in postwar Europe and Japan, theories of socialisation and democratic habituation would lead us to expect significant pro-democratic shifts in South Africa's political culture, especially amongst the youngest generation, who are popularly known in South Africa as the ‘Born Frees’. Against these expectations, however, survey evidence indicates that the post-apartheid generation are less committed to democracy than their parents or grandparents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-153
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • democratic consolidation
  • democratisation
  • generational change
  • new democracies
  • political culture theory
  • political socialisation
  • post-apartheid South Africa
  • South African democracy
  • youth attitudes
  • Afrobarometer

    Mattes, R., Gyimah-Boadi, E., Bratton, M., Logan, C., Dulani, B. & Mitullah, W.

    14/09/98 → …

    Project: Research

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