Legal consciousness and dissent: The formal and informal regulation of foreign shopkeepers in South Africa

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.35295/osls.iisl.1678

Keywords:

Legal consciousness, legal hegemony, migration, informality, conciencia jurídica, hegemonía jurídica, migración, informalidad

Abstract

Many foreign shopkeepers have opened small businesses in South Africa’s township neighbourhoods since the advent of democracy in 1994. Over the years they have encountered animosity from competing South African traders, many of whom have incited xenophobic attacks, and mobilised to curb their businesses. This paper draws on field research on Somali shopkeepers in Cape Town to understand the legal consciousness of parties involved in regulatory efforts to curtail foreign small businesses. It finds that local level regulation reflects a narrative of “parallel to the law”, while national level events mirror Halliday and Bronwyn Morgan’s (2013) narrative of “dissenting collectivism”. However, in this case, parties were targeting progressive laws protecting vulnerable groups rather than laws favouring the elite, and dissent frequently involved cooperation with rather than opposition to the state. Counter-hegemonic action can therefore manifest differently in contexts of rising populism and weakening adherence to human rights principles and values.

Muchos comerciantes extranjeros han abierto pequeños negocios en los barrios de los townships sudafricanos desde la llegada de la democracia en 1994. A lo largo de los años se han enfrentado a la animadversión de los comerciantes sudafricanos de la competencia, muchos de los cuales han incitado a ataques xenófobos, y se han movilizado para frenar sus negocios. Este artículo se basa en una investigación de campo sobre los comerciantes somalíes de Ciudad del Cabo para comprender la conciencia jurídica de las partes implicadas en los esfuerzos reguladores para restringir el pequeño comercio extranjero. Se constata que la regulación a nivel local refleja una narrativa “paralela al derecho”, mientras que los acontecimientos a nivel nacional reflejan la narrativa del “colectivismo disidente” de Halliday y Bronwyn Morgan (2013). Sin embargo, en este caso, los partidos tenían como objetivo leyes progresistas que protegían a los grupos vulnerables en lugar de leyes que favorecían a la élite, y la disidencia a menudo implicaba cooperación con el Estado en lugar de oposición a él. Por lo tanto, la acción contrahegemónica puede manifestarse de forma diferente en contextos de creciente populismo y debilitamiento de la adhesión a los principios y valores de los derechos humanos.

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Author Biography

Vanya Gastrow, University of Cape Town

Department of Public Law, University of Cape Town. Email address: vanya.gastrow@uct.ac.za

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Published

01-02-2024

How to Cite

Gastrow, V. (2024) “Legal consciousness and dissent: The formal and informal regulation of foreign shopkeepers in South Africa”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 14(1), pp. 33–55. doi: 10.35295/osls.iisl.1678.