The Social Sciences at Brill


The Social Sciences at Brill are central to our mission of publishing superior scholarship that addresses the complex needs and struggles of the ever-changing political and cultural landscape of a globalized world.

Anchored in well-established critical and comparative publications, the Social Sciences at Brill are experiencing dynamic expansion and diversification by reason of our three core principles for achieving enduring growth in ways that are uniquely relevant to the 21st century: 1) social responsiveness; 2) multi-/inter-/transdisciplinarity; and 3) innovation and revitalization.






News & Announcements

Stay up-to-date with the Brill Community and sign up to our newsletter!

Sign up

Podcast: 'In Chains' Episode 3

In the third episode of our new themed series In Chains, we speak with Dr. Alexis Aronowitz from University College Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands, who is the author of the article, “Regulating business involvement in labor exploitation and human trafficking” published in Journal of Labor and Society.

Brill Publishes Two New Book Series in the Social Sciences

Brill is pleased to announce the addition of two new peer-reviewed book series to its Social Sciences publishing program: International Studies in Maritime Sociology and Studies in Political Economy of Global Labor and Work. The series will be published online and in print.

Brill adds Two New Journals to Its Social Sciences Publishing Program

Two journals, the Journal of Labor and Society (JLSO) and Protest, have been added to Brill’s expanding publishing program in the Social Sciences. Both journals will be published online and in print. Previous volumes of JLSO are already available on Brill’s website, the first issues of Protest are planned for publication in 2021.


Acquisitions Editor


Jason Prevost

V&R unipress

Julia Schwanke


Lesotho has achieved remarkable political stability, much credit for which must go to the adoption of the mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral system that provides fair representation for opposition parties in parliament. Civil peace has been underpinned by tight fiscal policies and steady economic growth, although present gains are threatened by a recent reduction in employment in the textile sector and by long-term threats such as HIV/AIDS.


The coalition that had come to power after the election of March 2012, led by Tom Thabane of the All Basotho Congress (ABC), confirmed its position amidst unfavourable economic circumstances, while displaying an unexpected reformist streak in seeking to clamp down on human rights and other abuses by the police and in fighting corruption. However, the coalition between the ABC, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the Basotho National Party (BNP) was to be rocked by charges of fraud being brought against Dr Timothy Thahane of the LCD, and his subsequent dismissal from his post as minister of energy, meteorology and water affairs. Although tensions were patched up by a cabinet reshuffle, fears that the coalition would prove unstable remained.


Disputes within the coalition government led by Prime Minister Tom Thabane of the All Basotho Congress (abc) culminated in a no-confidence motion. Political uncertainty had already been amplified by an apparent attempt to assassinate the prime minister in January, and was laid bare by an open rift between the Lesotho Defence Force (ldf) and the Lesotho Mounted Police. Political deadlock led to attempted mediation by sadc and later by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. However, after the prime minister announced the dismissal of the commander of the ldf in late August, the military attacked the police headquarters and surrounded Thabane’s official residence, from where he had already escaped to South Africa. Within days, South Africa brokered an agreement that provided both for Thabane to return to Lesotho and for parliament to be re-opened in late September. Yet despite continuing sadc involvement, this deadline was not met, and parliament only resumed in late October. By this time, sadc had secured a deal whereby parliament would meet to complete pressing business, and then be dissolved in December pending new elections to be held early in 2015. Due to the political turmoil, both foreign affairs (apart from efforts by third parties to mediate in the domestic conflict) and socioeconomic developments offered little to report.


The political crisis that had gripped Lesotho following divisions within the coalition government led by Prime Minister Tom Thabane of the All Basotho Congress (abc) had resulted in agreement, under pressure from sadc, that the country go to an early general election. This was held on 28 February, when a deeply divided country returned a deeply divided parliament. Although Thabane’s abc won only one less seat than the Democratic Congress (dc) of Phakalitha Mosisili, the latter was able to cobble together a coalition of seven political parties, which enabled him to form a government. However, any chance of a return to political stability was nullified by the reappointment on 21 May of Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli (allied to Mosisili) as commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (ldf), and the dismissal from the same post of Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao (who had been appointed by Thabane). Opposition leaders fled to South Africa, Mahao was subsequently assassinated by members of the ldf, and opposition mps boycotted Parliament. Intervention by the au led to the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into the new crisis under the auspices of sadc. As the country awaited its report, security remained fragile and the political arena continued in paralysis.


The seven-party coalition put together by Phakalitha Mosisili, leader of the Democratic Congress (dc), following the February 2015 election was always destined to be unstable. Although he was once again prime minister, Mosisili’s coalition majority in parliament was wafer thin and, as the government progressed, its internal tensions became increasingly manifest. Ironically, this flowed most notably from divisions between the Lithope and Lirurubele factions within the dc (led by Mosisili and Monyane Moleleke, deputy leader of the dc, respectively). They culminated in Mosisili’s removal of Moleke as minister of police and public safety and his transfer to the prime minister’s office in November, along with the dismissal of four other ministers, allegedly for colluding with the opposition. It subsequently emerged that Moleleke had forged an agreement with the former prime minister, Tom Thabane, leader of the opposition All Basotho Convention (abc), to oust the government.


The seven-party coalition government led by Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili, which had led the country since the February 2015 general election, lost a vote of no confidence in February. This followed the breakaway from the government by Monyane Moleleke, hitherto deputy leader of Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (dc), in January, and his formation of a new party, the Alliance of Democrats (ad). Rather than resign, Mosisili advised King Letsie iii to dissolve parliament. However, in the June election that followed, the All Basotho Convention (abc) emerged as the largest party. Its leader, Tom Thabane, subsequently put together a new coalition composed of the abc, the Basotho National Party (bnp), the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (rcl) and the ad and resumed the post of prime minister, which he had held prior to the 2015 election. One of the principal tasks of the new government was seen as the implementation of reforms to the security sector. However, the assassination of the army commander, Khoantle Motsomotso, by two senior officers in September indicated that the new government would face an uphill task in removing the Lesotho Defence Force (ldf) from the political arena.


The June 2017 election had resulted in the formation of Lesotho’s third coalition government since 2012. With a narrow majority, it was always at risk of defeat by defection by individual mps, this contributing to a perpetual sense of political instability in a country where party loyalties have always been fickle, and where the military has a long record of political intervention and has become highly politicised. Eager to resolve the long-running crisis, sadc placed concerted pressure on the government and its opponents to implement far-reaching political and security reforms. The resultant national dialogue of political parties, held in December, proved to be constructive yet inconclusive. Political uncertainty was compounded by divisions within the All Basotho Convention (abc), which threatened to bring down the coalition government, and the announcement by former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili that he would step down from the leadership of the Democratic Congress (dc), the largest opposition party. Although this raised hopes for the passing of a generation of political leaders bearing a heavy responsibility for the country’s instability, popular opinion registered deep distrust of the existing political system.


Progress towards the stabilisation of Lesotho’s fractious politics was endangered throughout 2019 by a vicious battle for control of the All Basotho Convention (abc) led by Prime Minister Tom Thabane and Professor Nqosa Mahao, who in February won a highly disputed party electoral process to become deputy leader and hence take pole position to succeed the 81-year-old Thabane as party leader. Thabane’s bid to overturn Mahao’s success ended up as an extended battle in the courts, the most alarming aspect of which was the prime minister’s seeming attempts to manipulate the judiciary. Mahao was the eventual winner, Thabane ending the year remaining as prime minister but with his position under siege. Against this background, the brokering of an agreement by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, acting on behalf of the sadc, to establish a National Legislative Reform Authority to facilitate governance and security reforms seemed out of touch with the political realities on the ground.


The installation of Moeketsi Majoro as prime minister on 20 May 2020 was widely welcomed as providing a way out of the long-running political crisis which had resulted from the efforts of Tom Thabane, Majoro’s 80-year-old predecessor, to cling on to power in defiance of he and his wife being charged with murder, his losing support from within his All Basotho Convention (abc) party, and charges that he had manipulated the judiciary. The peaceful transfer of power, enabled by a vote in parliament, was consolidated by Majoro’s forging a coalition between the abc and the Democratic Congress (dc), whose leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, became deputy prime minister.


Eighty-year-old Tom Thabane, who was forced to resign as prime minister in May 2020 but clung to his leadership of the All Basotho Convention (abc) party, the largest party in Lesotho’s ruling coalition, seemingly using this as a bargaining counter to delay or nullify his forthcoming trial for the 2017 murder of his former wife, Lipolelo Thabane. His determination to remain a political player, despite his lack of office, undermined the authority of his successor as prime minister, Moeketsi Majoro. The resulting factional turbulence within the abc threatened the survival of an already fragile coalition, especially after Majoro purged potential defectors from his cabinet in April. One of the latter, Professor Nqosa Mahao, who had conducted a long campaign to remove Thabane as the leader of the abc, proceeded to form a new party, the Basotho Action Party (bap), initially threatening to unseat Majoro by tabling a motion of no confidence in the prime minister in parliament. He later withdrew this threat, but not before the resulting uncertainty had prompted intervention by the sadc, which wants to see the completion of its reform programme, designed to promote political stability, before the next election, scheduled to be held in September 2022.