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Michael Braun, JHI-Mellon Graduate Fellow in Political Science

Michael Braun, JHI-Mellon Graduate Fellow in Political Science, 2017-2018

Project Description: My research explores the rise of opposition parties and populist politics at the local level in contemporary South Africa, where I conducted field work during the 2016 Local Government Elections. The project seeks to determine the factors that channeled feelings of exclusion and injustice into opposition party support rather than being expressed in other ways such as violent unrest, voting abstention, and xenophobic violence. Through in-depth interviews and ethnographic research conducted with local EFF organizers, my work analyzes the strategies, tactics, and resources that facilitated opposition party growth at the local level. Additional focus groups and surveys with potential voters will be used to explain the appeal of opposition parties, populist politics, and decolonization discourse among different demographics. This study of the microfoundations of political mobilization aims to further our understanding of the generational and local contextual factors that lead to social and political change in democratizing countries.

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