Original Articles

Institutions and social change: a case study of the South African National AIDS Council

Published in: Anthropology Southern Africa
Volume 36, issue 3-4, 2013 , pages: 116–123
DOI: 10.1080/02580144.2013.10887035
Author(s): Theodore PowersThe Human Economy Project, Faculty of Humanities, South Africa


Institutions play an important role in the success or failure of social models, as they promote or limit particular political and economic activities. Central to this point is the understanding that institutions and traditions are in a constant state of flux. Taken in this light, state and non-state institutions are continually being ‘re-invented’ to reflect a particular society's changing economic, political and cultural division of power. Immanent in this constant process of change is the possibility of transforming formal political institutions to more closely reflect the needs of human beings. The South African National AIDS Council provides a useful case study to illuminate how non-state social alliances can transform state institutions to reflect the needs of society. Through the mobilisation of non-state and community-based organisations, the South African HIV/AIDS movement successfully influenced the South African government to expand the public health response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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