Recent and upcoming events

South African’s Evaluations of Presidential Performance

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 8 September, 2015 -
12:45 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Jamy Felton
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

In 2009 the African National Congress (ANC) won their fourth successive term as South Africa’s ruling party. Consequentially, this meant that their party leader, Jacob Zuma, became South Africa’s fourth democratic president. Prior to his appointment, the South African news media was rife with criticism of Zuma over his recent rape charges, his views of women, his polygamous beliefs, and his involvement in the South African Arms Deal Saga, yet was often referred to as "the populist". Fast forward to Nelson Mandela's memorial service in December 2013, and suddenly the crowd is singin a different tune. Every time President Zuma took the stage, boos echoed through the stadium.

This introduces an interesting question about the South African people and the way they shape their evaluations of presidents. Is it based upon who the president is (their identity), how their government has performed, or what South Africans know or see? My thesis is a quantitative study using IDASA and Afrobarometer data to test three competing hypotheses (Identity, Performance Evaluation and Cognitive Awareness) in trying to explain how South Africans shape their evaluations of their president between 1997 and 2011. 

Gender and Homebirth: A relational, heterosexual couples perspective

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 25 August, 2015 -
12:45 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Nicole Daniels
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

A recently completed masters dissertation in Sociology through the Family Studies Research Unit (FamSRu) at the CSSR produced findings on couples’ experiences of homebirth. Conceptualised in response to the scant attention given to men’s experiences and the almost non-existing literature on South African couples experiences. Unlike previous couple studies however, this study illustrates gender as a central aspect of homebirth narratives, the birth itself being key to the negotiation of femininity and masculinity. Adopting a relational gender framework - theoretically and methodologically - narrative constructions of homebirth highlight simultaneous operations of gender as both opportunity and constraint.

In their constructions of relational masculinities, homebirthing men distinguished between “being there”, understood in the fatherhoods literature as physical ‘presence’, with the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of ‘presence’. The findings revealed a “selfless masculinity” partially at odds with broader cultural expectations of men as the family breadwinner. On the other hand women’s focus on their bodies meant that their constructions of “self-reliant femininity”, whilst less at odds with broader cultural expectations of women as primary caregivers, significantly reconfigured women (and men’s) relationships to the birthing body. Rich data and careful analysis generated detailed insights into the research topic that produced alternative knowledge of women and men’s interrelated, everyday, relational gendered lives.

Change and continuity in the South African electorate: Initial results of the 2014 South African election study.

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 18 August, 2015 -
12:45 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Professor Robert Mattes
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The South African National Election Study (SANES) consists of a series of post-election surveys of the electorate that have been carried out after each of the country’s post-apartheid elections.  It is also part of two separate cross national projects, the Comparative National Elections Project and the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems.  In this presentation, Robert Mattes will introduce people to the content of the SANES and then examine selected key overtime trends in voter attitudes and evaluations, including results from the most recent study carried out after the 2014 election.

Perceived Relative Deprivation among ‘coloured’ South Africans

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 21 July, 2015 -
12:45 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Whitney Laster Pirtle, Ph.D. Department of Sociology University of California, Merced
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

So-called “coloureds” occupied an important, intermediate, and often buffering position during apartheid and continue to be a significant part of the South African political and economic landscape today. Considering  "coloureds’" intermediate and often precarious position, this research seeks to understand how "coloureds" perceive their position in contemporary South Africa. Specifically, in this paper I analyze two waves of the Southern African Barometer, and supplement with preliminary findings from qualitative interviews, to determine whether persons who self-identify as “coloured” perceive their group as deprived and gratified compared to “white” and “black” South Africans, respectively. I inform this analysis with relative deprivation theory, which makes predictions about individuals’ and groups’ perceptions of disadvantage (or gratification) relative to another individual or group. I extend the theory to apply to “coloureds” who were once simultaneously dominant and subordinate. I contend such an analysis allows us speculate/deduce key information about how South Africans perceive their positions and experiences within the racial hierarchy. Contrary to my expectations, I found that "coloureds" reported the highest levels of economic and treatment deprivation. I argue heightened perceptions of deprivation are a characteristic of the multiple social comparisons that must be made by “coloureds” today.

 

 

Constraints, Competition, and Competitiveness: Explaining the Non-linear Effect of Democratisation on Political Budget Cycles

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 9 June, 2015 -
12:45 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Halfdan Lynge-Mangueira co-authored with Ferdinand Eibl
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

This article investigates the effect of democratisation on political budget cycles (PBCs). Challenging the existing literature, we demonstrate that democratisation has a non-linear effect on PBCs along the regime spectrum: positive at the autocratic end, negative at the democratic end. We explain this finding by the countervailing effects of executive constraints and political competition as two dimensions of democratisation. While the former contains PBCs, the latter stimulates them. Because of the empirical covariation between the two, PBCs occur primarily in hybrid regimes where executive decision-making powers are relatively unrestricted and politics is beginning to be competitive. We also show that while executive constraints and political competition condition PBCs, what triggers the fluctuations is electoral competitiveness. Only when incumbents fear electoral defeat, do they create PBCs. The study is based on a new dataset on public spending in 87 non-OECD countries, covering the period from 1960 to 2006.

Halfdan Lynge-Mangueira is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford. His research in comparative politics and political economy focuses on electoral mobilisation, manipulation, and dispute resolution. Prior to commencing his doctoral research, Halfdan Lynge-Mangueira spent five years with the UN in Bangladesh, Mozambique, and Ethiopia, as a political advisor and democratic governance specialist. He holds MSc and BSc degrees in politics from the University of Copenhagen

Without state nor status - exploring undocumented migrant children’s experiences in Cape Town

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 2 June, 2015 -
12:45 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Lena Opfermann (Visiting PhD student in the CSSR, from the University of York in the UK)
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

This presentation reflects on preliminary findings of a drama-based research project that explored the experiences and perceptions of undocumented migrant children living in Cape Town. Participants’ recurring references to discrimination, xenophobia, crime and loneliness show that their lack of a legal status specifically as well as their foreign nationality more generally affect their daily lives in practical and emotional terms. Participants’ enacted performances display notions of vulnerability and victimhood on the one hand and agency on the other hand. I interrogate how state actors, civil society and academic discourses instrumentalize these contrasting notions for their own purposes in an attempt to either enhance or restrict migrant children’s status in society. I conclude by arguing that neither the children’s actual nor attributed agency is sufficient to transform their status if they live in a state that does not recognize their presence. 

 

Lena is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York (UK), and currently a visiting student at the Centre for Social Science Research at UCT. Her PhD explores the experiences of unaccompanied and undocumented migrant children in Cape Town through a theatre-based methodology. Lena has a background in International Humanitarian Action (MA) from the University of Uppsala (Sweden) and in Cultural Sciences (BA) from the European University Viadrina (Germany). Prior to her PhD she worked for several years in the protection of refugees and migrants in South Africa, Ecuador and Angola. From 2008 to 2011 she led the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town’s advocacy programme with a particular focus on advocating for the rights of unaccompanied foreign children, disabled refugees and persons affected by xenophobic violence. 

Migrant Organising and Civic Agency

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 12 May, 2015 -
12:45 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Leah Mundell
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

This project is an engaged research collaboration with the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, a refugee services organization. In November of 2014, Scalabrini Centre launched a new initiative to build a Women’s Platform, a network of refugee, immigrant, and South African women’s community groups that would provide mutual support, training, and networking opportunities. Seven nationality groups currently participate in the platform, coming together across differences in migration status, religion, socio-economic class, and language to fight the isolation often caused by migration and eventually to support the development of small businesses and social entrepreneurship. My still ongoing qualitative research with the Women’s Platform examines the factors leading women to engage in such organizing structures, the cultural specificity of their engagement, and the habits and practices that make particular support strategies successful. I am particularly interested in how civil society organizations can successfully engage with migrants as agents of change rather than recipients of services. Here, I attempt to anticipate challenges that may arise as the group moves from primarily social support into micro-finance and entrepreneurship. Critics of micro-finance organizations have argued that such structures may commoditize women’s social relationships in ways that jeopardize their effectiveness in providing social support. How might the Women’s Platform be building the trust, collaboration, and leadership necessary to make that transition successfully?

Leah Mundell is currently a visiting scholar at the Centre for Social Science Research of the University of Cape Town. She is an instructor in the First Year Seminar Program at Northern Arizona University and until recently was Director of Organizing for the Northern Arizona Interfaith Council, a broad-based community organization working for social change on issues such as immigration and public education. She received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2003.

The Land Occupation as a Tactic: Community Organisation and Contentious Politics in the Marikana Informal Settlement, Cape Town

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 5 May, 2015 -
12:45 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Rayner Teo
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

What makes a successful land occupation? Marikana informal settlement is the largest new land occupation in Cape Town since Siqalo (2012), and it is probably there to stay. In this ongoing research, I document the emergence of community organising in Marikana, as well as the political opportunities that have facilitated the land occupation—particularly the role of the newly-formed Ses'khona People's Rights Movement. Guided by perspectives from social movement theory, I conceptualise land occupation as a tactic within the repertoire of contentious politics in South Africa. I then build a case for considering the poor in South Africa as a social movement that employs a large and varied repertoire of contention, including the land occupation

Rayner is a research master's student in the Sociology department. He is studying collective action, contentious politics, and social movement organisations in South Africa. His dissertation work focuses on the Marikana land occupation in Cape Town. His work is funded by the Fox Fellowship from Yale University, and the CSSR.

Interrogating health coverage in Africa

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 28 April, 2015 -
12:45 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Nicoli Nattrass/Danielle Pagano
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

The International Labour Organisation has recently released data on 'health care coverage'.  We interrogate this variable by examining the sources for the estimates, and by exploring whether it is correlated with key outcomes, notably the percentage of poor women who give birth with health professionals in attendance.  We find that the ILO's new measures of legal coverage and deficits pertaining to health care workers are predictors of pro-poor outcomes in Africa. However we are concerned that the estimate of legal coverage is misleading in many cases.

Technocrats, Elections and Social Protection in Ghana

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 21 April, 2015 - 12:45
Presenter(s): 
Eduard Grebe
Venue: 
Rm 4.29, Leslie Social Science
Abstract / Description: 

During the 2000s, Ghana introduced substantial social protection policy reforms. These included reform of the contributory pensions system from a single statutory defined-benefit scheme and a colonial-era defined benefit scheme for civil servants (the former introduced and the latter closed to new entrants in 1992) to a new three-tier system with mandatory and voluntary privately-administered schemes augmenting the SSNIT. A new contributory national health insurance scheme was introduced in 2003 and several forms of social assistance targeted at the (largely rural) poor, including a school feeding programme, ‘capitation grants’ to expand free primary education and the flagship Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) cash transfer scheme. All of these reforms were initiated under the right-of-centre Kufuor/New Patriotic Party administration, who had won the 2000 elections and unseated Jerry Rawlings’ National Democratic Convention which had been in power since democratisation in 1992. The NDC returned to power in 2008 and has continued the implementation NPP-introduced reforms and with broadly similar economic and social protection policy. Given Ghana’s experience with poor performance during statist experiments under military rule and the return to sustained economic growth after painful ‘structural adjustment’ reforms in the 1980s, the broad cross-party consensus on macroeconomic policy is not surprising. What requires more explanation is how and why Ghana opted for an unusually contributory social insurance-oriented social protection policy framework augmented by various forms of social assistance and a (relatively parsimonious and small, but largely domestically-funded) conditional cash transfer scheme – and that this policy path too enjoyed broad consensus. It introduced cash transfers earlier than many African countries and in a less donor-driven fashion, despite early resistance from some parts of the polity to handouts’. However, despite highly-competitive elections with two dominant parties, neither party appears to have seized a populist social assistance agenda (for example, broad expansion of LEAP or universal social pensions) in order to attract poor rural voters, the urban poor is largely left out of the social protection system, and the LEAP programme has remained small under the rule of both parties. This paper examines the ‘technocratic’ agenda (among both donors and bureaucrats) and the political/ideological agendas as well as electoral incentives on politicians in an attempt to help explain the path of Ghanaian social protection policy reform since 2000.

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