International Forum for Democratic Studies Research Council Member

Steven Friedman

Centre for the Study of Democracy (South Africa)

Steven Friedman is director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg and Rhodes University. His current research focuses on democratic theory, and over the past decade, he has largely written on the relationship between democracy, social inequality and economic growth. In particular, he has stressed the role of citizen voice in strengthening democracy and promoting equality and has also analysed biases in South Africa’s democratisation which has obstructed democratic participation by the poor. Dr. Friedman has also researched and written widely on the South African transition to democracy, both before and after the elections of 1994. During the 1980s, he produced a series of studies of reform apartheid and its implications for a democratic future.

Dr. Friedman recently published Race, Class and Power: Harold Wolpe and the Radical Critique of Apartheid, a study of radical social thought in the fight against apartheid and its implications for contemporary South Africa. He is currently working on a study which assigns primacy to the role of collective action in creating and sustaining democratic systems of government and a project which is examining the way in which commonly used phrases and terms in the South African policy debate unwittingly reinforce attitudes which are hostile to democracy. His most recent published articles include “The Ambiguous Legacy of Liberalism: Less a Theory of Society, More a State of Mind?” in Intellectual Traditions in South Africa: Ideas, Individuals and Institutions, edited by Peter Vale, Lawrence Hamilton and Estelle H. Prinsloo;  “What We Know Can’t Hurt Them: Origins, Sources of Sustenance, and Survival Prospects of Budget Transparency in South Africa” in Open Budgets: The Political Economy of Transparency, Participation and Accountability edited by Sanjeev Khagram, Archon Fung and Paolo de Renzio; “From Classroom to Class Struggle: Radical Academics and the Rebirth of Trade Unionism in the 1970s” published in Journal of Asian and African Studies and  “South Africa: Electoral Dominance, Identity Politics and Democracy’ in Party Systems and Democracy in Africa edited by Renske Doorenspleet and Lia Nijzink. He has authored columns for various newspapers including the Weekly Mail, Business Day, and Mail and Guardian.

He received his BA (Hons) in Political Science at the University of the Witwatersrand, and a D. Litt from Rhodes University.