Journal Article

Mobilizing the faithful: Organizational autonomy, visionary pastors, and citizenship in South Africa and Zambia

Amy S. Patterson and Tracy Kuperus

in African Affairs

Volume 115, issue 459, pages 318-341
Published in print April 2016 | ISSN: 0001-9909
Published online March 2016 | e-ISSN: 1468-2621 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/afraf/adw003
Mobilizing the faithful: Organizational autonomy, visionary pastors, and citizenship in South Africa and Zambia

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  • African History
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Many studies have examined the significant involvement of Christian organizations in national-level politics since the revitalization of democracy in Africa in the 1990s, but few have focused on local faith-based organizations engaged in grassroots citizen mobilization. This article compares two such organizations rooted in local communities in Zambia and South Africa in order to elucidate their role. On the basis of interviews, document analysis, and participant observations conducted in 2011, 2013, and 2014, we find that the greater the autonomy a Pentecostal organization enjoys from external partners and the more independence its leader enjoys in decision making, the more likely it is to engage in local citizenship mobilization. However, while these structural factors may facilitate change, they are unlikely to result in new political strategies being pursued unless they are combined with a form of visionary leadership that seeks to promote citizenship. Our findings explain new forms of Pentecostal political involvement, particularly at the grassroots level, by showing how some leaders have used their churches' autonomous structures to promote political engagement.

Journal Article.  10359 words. 

Subjects: African History ; International Relations ; Regional Political Studies ; African Studies

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