Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Constructing symbolic agendas with the discourse of black economic empowerment: structural and political change in South African mining

Makgoba, Metji 2019. Constructing symbolic agendas with the discourse of black economic empowerment: structural and political change in South African mining. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
Item availability restricted.

[img] PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 21 September 2021 due to copyright restrictions.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.

Download (3MB)
[img] PDF - Supplemental Material
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (178kB)


This thesis argues that Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) has always maintained a discursive stance against the transformation of historical, structural, and power inequities in South Africa. It highlights how the government and mining corporations symbolically appropriate the discourses of colonialism and apartheid to associate BEE with these inequities without adopting and proposing any structural reforms. BEE also adopts discourses and social practices that resist institutional, cultural, and structural changes from its conception. There is a common, political, and scholarly consensus that BEE aims to transform these inequities that emanate from the structural legacies of apartheid and colonialism and so scholars proceeded to study its outcomes. However, the thesis disputes this assumption in constructionist and discursive terms. It concludes that BEE contains contradictory, hegemonic, corporate, and ahistorical discourses of managerialism, neoliberalism, sustainable development, and blackness that disconnect the policy from historical, structural, and power inequities. These discourses subtly preserve, conceal, reproduce, and depoliticise these inequities while at the same time contributing to the dehistoricisation and decontextualisation of BEE and the expansion of corporate power. Drawing on Marion Young’s (1990) concepts of the critique of the distributive paradigm of justice, the thesis employs a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of BEE legislation, policy documents, and annual reports. It also draws on interview data from mining, government and community officials in the mining sector to reach conclusions. The thesis finds that BEE legislation and policies originate outside of government from the BEE Commission Report. It reveals how both the government and mining corporations contextualise BEE in the discourses of colonialism and apartheid, adopting this technique from this Report. The thesis further finds that the government and corporations focus on what I call distributive deracialisation which discursively concentrates on changing the racial composition of corporate and ownership structures through neoliberal, market-based and distributive reforms to maintain the status quo. However, the same government and corporations ironically deracialise BEE by adopting ahistorical and dislocated forms of blackness and the discourses of managerialism, sustainable development and neoliberal practices. These discourses ironically contradict how these actors contextualised BEE historically to create an impression that the policy aims to transform the above-mentioned inequities. Furthermore, corporations construct their own managerial practices and discourses as addressing these inequities despite their depoliticising and dehistoricising nature. This symbolically functions to associate their corporate work with large-scale structural transformation while not changing their institutional practices at all.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 September 2020
Date of Acceptance: 21 September 2020
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2020 16:14

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics