This paper examines the interactions between doctors and claimants during assessments of medical eligibility for disability grants (DGs) in South Africa. Based on ethnographic work in clinics and hospitals, I show that disability assessments are sites of negotiation and contestation between doctors, claimants and the state over how social security rights should be allocated. Focusing on five cases of ‘resistance’, I show how disability as a social, medical and administrative category was socially and discursively constructed, (re-)defined and applied in ways that contradicted official policy. I argue that doctors’ divergence from rules and guidelines was driven by differences between the government’s bureaucratic framing of disability and the alternative frames doctors used for making sense of cases and thinking about disability, illness and employability in the South African context. Doctors’ framing of disability grant cases was shaped by their social and cultural backgrounds and dispositions, professional knowledge and values, as well as broader discursive framings of rights and social justice. Claimants also asserted their own subjective understandings of disability during assessments, using their agency to resist the objectifying process of disability categorisation and attempting to have their experiences of physical, social and financial suffering 'seen' and legitimised by the state. They used performances of disability, narratives of suffering, social pressure and threats of violence to manipulate or coerce doctors into recommending grants or to voice their frustration with perceived unjust treatment. This paper makes an original empirical contribution to the study of conceptions of disability as a category of the ‘deserving’ poor in a context of high poverty. It also highlights the influence of norms and values in the allocation of welfare rights at the street-level and demonstrates how the agency of both frontline workers and citizens can shape policy implementation. This provides useful insight into the ‘gap’ between policy and practice.
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In South Africa, research has shown that ‘black’, female-headed households are typically more financially vulnerable than male-headed households and other female-headed households. However, little is known about how financial and non-monetary resources are provided, controlled and used within these households, or about the relative emotional and financial wellbeing of different household members. Scholars have therefore argued for more nuanced understandings of the intra-household dynamics and household economies of female-headed households. Through the collection and analysis of qualitative data from two generations of household members in 14 female-headed households in Khayelitsha, my master’s thesis has aimed to contribute towards a better understanding of these issues. In presenting some of the research findings, it will be shown that the households in the sample were important sites of support and solidarity. However, the findings build upon existing understandings of low-income, multi-generational households in South Africa as also being sites of conflict and contestation. While resources were contributed and shared between household members, this support was neither guaranteed nor was it provided solely on the basis of an adherence to kinship obligations. Rather, the provision of support and the unequal burden of care experienced by different generations of household members was often the outcome of intergenerational negotiation. The older female participants struggled to maintain their authority in their households and negotiate for more financial and practical assistance from their younger household members. While they perceived that some of their co-resident adult children no longer cared for them, the younger participants expressed that their mothers did not understand the competing pressures placed on their financial resources. As a consequence, the provision of support and perceptions about their interpersonal relationships were framed by experiences of intergenerational conflict and feelings of ambivalence. The findings highlight experiences of inequality and shifting positions of power within the households in a context where broader economic conditions and the nature of state support has constrained how household members may choose to handle instances of negotiation and conflict.
This paper (written with colleagues from Cardiff University in the UK) provides what we think is the first empirical testing using experimental data of W.E.B. Du Bois’s classic theory of ‘double consciousness’ and ‘second sight’, and is certainly the first such test in South Africa. Du Bois argued that black people in the USA were compelled to understand the mores and behaviours of white Americans in order to survive their subordination, whereas white Americans had no such need to understand the mores and behaviours of black Americans. Using the ‘Imitation Game’ experimental method (developed at Cardiff) with a large sample of UCT students, we tested the hypothesis that black South African university students are better able to understand the world of white South Africans than visa-versa. The results falsified the hypothesis. We then examined why Du Bois’ predictions do not hold among university students in South Africa. We conclude that the cultural fluidity and diversity experienced by black students undermines the ability of black students to distinguish between white students pretending to be black and genuine black students, whilst the deep-rooted cultural capital of white students allows them to distinguish black students pretending to be white from genuinely white students.
The seminar will focus on parental commitment to family life, after divorce, in contrast to its common perception as an irrevocable breaking up of the family unit, which is often perpetuated by representations from popular culture and the media. In the first detailed review of emotions and emotion work undertaken by divorced parents, the findings shed light on how parents manage feelings of guilt, fear, on-going anger and everyday unhappiness in the course of family life post-divorce. The author argues that the emotional dimension of divorce is shaped by societal and structural factors and requires parents to undertake considerable emotion work in the creation of new moral identities. The findings also point to the often gendered responsibilities for sustaining family lives post separation, and how these reflect extensive inequalities in family practices. The author concludes that divorce is not dangerous for society; it is not a social evil or a demonstration of the rise of selfish individualism, and that divorcees remain committed to former partners and children long after divorce.
The election in 2011 of President Michael Sata and his party, the Patriotic Front (PF), led to not only a major expansion of social cash transfers (SCTs) but to a decision for the initiative to be mostly state (as opposed to donor) driven as well. This study finds that under the former ruling party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), there was a failure to address salient issues such as unemployment and income inequality, despite sustained economic growth between 2002 and 2011. The shortcomings of the MMD’s neoliberal economic framework led to increased demand especially among urban Zambians for a pro -poor reform agenda. Sata and the PF capitalised on these demands using a populist electoral strategy that included promises of pro-poor economic growth that would benefit people in villages and urban townships. Between 2011 and 2014, i.e. from the time of Sata’s election to his death in office, the PF government emphasised a shift from agricultural subsidies (which were preferred by the MMD) to cash transfers while also increasing budgetary allocations to other social protection programmes such as empowerment funds for youth and women. Reforms were also driven in part by other actors including international donors and agencies, civil society and bureaucrats, all of whom interacted with political leaders through various processes. The study highlights the importance of socio-economic factors, populist politics, electoral dynamics, and the roles played by different actors to understanding social policy reforms that happened after a change of government in Zambia.
Hangala Siachiwena holds a BA in Development Studies and Economics from the University of Zambia and an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cape Town (UCT). He is currently a PhD candidate in the UCT’s Sociology department and a researcher on the Legislating and Implementing Welfare Policy Reforms (LIWPR) research project in the CSSR. His research looks at how and why social protection policy making is affected by changes of government in Southern African countries, including Malawi, Namibia and Zambia.
Although immigrant integration policies have long been hypothesised to be causally related to the salience of xenophobia, systematic empirical research investigating this relationship only gained momentum in recent years. One of the more robust findings is that more permissive policies seem to be associated with decreased perceptions of group threat from immigrants. Yet, these research projects are often limited to once-off cross-sectional comparisons of immigrant integration policies, and anti-foreigner sentiments in European countries. This study uses systematic methods to test the direction of the policy-attitude linkage through a longitudinal analysis. Moreover, the study contributes to the existing literature by expanding this test to South Africa, representing the hitherto under-researched developing world setting and a geographical area that differs from the highly industrialised European context. The longitudinal analysis of immigrant integration policies in Germany and South Africa confirms that over time both countries implemented several changes that resulted in more accommodating policy frameworks. A subsequent analysis of the policy-attitude relationship confirms the direction of causality running from policies to citizens’ economic and cultural threat perceptions. Furthermore, the results confirm that integration policies indeed have the theorised mediating influence on the salience of economic threat in Germany. However, immigrant integration policies do not seem to be connected to economic threat in the case of South Africa.
The lecture presents findings from long-term content analyses of the coverage of German election campaigns in newspapers and television news and of electoral spots on television. These findings thus show how the media reporting of elections changed over time and also of how the parties present themselves to the electorate. In particular, it will be discussed whether there has been a trend towards personalization in a political system that is dominated by parties.
Poverty and inequality are generational and increasing, and the implication is that they have immunity to intervention, or the current interventions. These problems are better conceptualised as behavioural with the lack of wealth a symptom of that behaviour. Life History (LH) theory offers a biological perspective on human behaviour with a focus on resource allocation. The amount of resources that parents allocate to aspects of reproduction differs, resulting in different parenting and that has consequences for the life of the child. LH theory offers an explanation of resource allocation variation and this study uses the CAPS data set to evaluate the theory in Cape Town.
Educational achievement was the outcome variable in a multiple regression model. The demographic and control variables were gender, race, age and ever pregnant. The variables were wealth and the themes of environment, school, school/parent, and parents. Between two and nine variables were used for each theme and many of variables were composite.
The model accounts for 35% of the variation in educational achievement and the significance is such that the results can be generalised beyond the sample. Parents and school/parents are the dominant factors. The environment and school alone are minor coefficients and wealth is important but with a low significance. There are also important interactions between variables.
This research offers a new perspective on the educational crisis, improving skills, improving health and reducing crime. Biology and particularly life history theory is shown to be a productive tool in understanding poverty and inequality.