Student's and Women's Movements in Kenya Transforming the Political Landscape

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: 419
Oral Presentation
Anna DEUTSCHMANN , University of Vienna, Austria
Social movements are an important part of the political landscape in Kenya. For instance, social movements have been strong forces during the struggle against the authoritarian rule in the 1980s, while they remained co-opted before. Social movements transformed themselves over certain periods of time and due to their specific political, societal, cultural and historical settings. The particular historical relation between social movements and the state shapes the impact of the activism and limit their contribution to the democratization process.

In order to explain the state-society relations we draw attention to the political environment social movements and in particular social movement organizations (SMOs) face in Kenya: First, SMOs fill political gaps left open by the state, such as the provision of extensive social services in fields where the state is not sufficiently active. With support of international donors, SMOs provide social services beyond states responsibility. Thereby, they de-legitimize the state and the ownership for development processes. Due to the fact that social movements highly depending on the support of the donor community, SMOs ensure accountability towards the donors rather than towards the state or the citizens. Furthermore, SMOs undertake the political recruitment for parties. SMOs are important vehicles in order to develop the profile of political aspirants and to gather political loyalties by adopting SMOs visions or using existing recruiting networks of social movements.

Based on field studies in Kenya, two case studies - the student’s and the women’s movements  show the structure and impact of social movements in Kenya. In order to explain to what extent social movements shape the democratic processes we analyse the particular relation and interaction between social movements and the state.

(Abstract together with Antje Daniel, University of Bayreuth)