Recent and upcoming events

The Dynamics of Race and Inequality in the United States: Permeable Boundaries and Self-fulfilling Prophecies

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 1 April, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Aliya Saperstein (Stanford University)
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Mounting evidence, both survey-based and experimental, demonstrates that perceptions of a person’s race in the USA change in response to myriad changes in social position. These findings suggest that individual-level racial fluidity serves to reinforce racial inequality by redefining successful or high-status people as white (or not black) and unsuccessful or low-status people as black (or not white). The basic patterns hold for both economic and non-economic outcomes, and across historical and contemporary periods – though they differ somewhat by gender. Taken together, the results provide a compelling, nationally representative demonstration of the social construction of race in the United States. They also raise new questions about how stereotypes shape the way we see race, in the most literal sense, and thus how we see and understand inequality -- which has implications for understanding racialized disparities around the world.

 

Does De-Industrialisation cause Social Polarisation in Global Cities? :A study of greater Johannesburg

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 25 March, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Owen Crankshaw and Jacqueline Borel-Saladin
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The social polarisation hypothesis argues that de-industrialisation causes the polarisation of the occupational structure, which in turn causes the income polarisation of the employed workforce of global cities. A central argument is that social polarisation occurs because the service sector is more polarised in occupational and income terms than the manufacturing sector that it replaces. However, the results of many studies suggest that de-industrialisation has not resulted in social polarisation. Instead, de-industrialisation has produced a professionalised occupational structure alongside high levels of unemployment. The results of this study of the Johannesburg region confirm that de-industrialisation results in professionalisation rather than polarisation. We then proceed to examine this outcome by analysing the statistical relationship between economic restructuring and the changing occupational structure. Our results suggest that changes in the overall occupational structure were caused by changes within each economic sector rather than by the growth of service sector employment and the decline of manufacturing sector employment.

South Africa's system of dispute resolution forums: The role of the family and the state in customary marriage dissolution

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 18 March, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Kirsty Button (Masters student, Sociology)
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

In being a legal pluralist state, South Africa has a system of state and customary dispute resolution forums. This paper is concerned with this system of dispute resolution forums, particularly in how marital disputes relating to the dissolution of customary marriages are mediated and resolved. It is demonstrated, through drawing upon data collected for the purposes of a larger research project, that there are serious shortcomings which exist within this system. Such shortcomings include the operation of structural constraints which limit women in their ability to access state dispute resolution forums for support in marital breakdown and the availability of some customary dispute resolution forums which appear to be under-utilised by couples experiencing marital breakdown. Another possible shortcoming within the abovementioned system is the insufficient assistance that is offered by the state, to married couples experiencing marital conflict and breakdown. The paper argues that these shortcomings prevent equitable outcomes in marital conflict and breakdown from being reached. Consequently, such shortcomings contribute to women being rendered economically vulnerable upon the dissolution of their customary marriages as they are often left to deal with marital conflict and breakdown in the context of unequal power relations which exist between spouses. The paper concludes by discussing possible solutions that could be adopted to rectify the shortcomings and help ensure that gender equality is achieved upon the dissolution of customary marriages

Variations in women's participation: An Eastern Cape case study

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 11 March, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Kem Okecha (PhD student, Sociology, UCT)
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The study accounts for women's political participation in the Eastern Cape towns of Ginsberg, Zwelitsha and Dimbaza in the 1980s. This period is deemed significant given the marked growth in grassroots movements and civic associations, the emerging political consciousness of local women in various parts of the country and the related increase in collective action among groups of women.  It outlines the roles of women within the civics, churches and community-based organisations such as the stokvels and manyano. The on-going study also explores the grievances of women in these areas during this period, the ways in which these were addressed and the women centered organisations that were developed. In addition, the similarities and differences in women's activism in all three towns is addressed. It is also acknowledged that in these parts of the Eastern Cape, although very few women’s organisations were formed as separate and autonomous structures during the 1980s, women played pivotal roles in the struggle. While the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) of the 1970s heavily influenced the political consciousness of women in Ginsberg Township, union activism formed a central component of women’s engagement and political resistance in Dimbaza. In Zwelitsha, women relied on the collective unity of the women’s manyano and welfare organisations, while the fear of police surveillance intimidation meant that although they were deeply discontented and politically conscious, they were somewhat restrained in their organisation.

Imitation games: Interactional Expertise and Comparative Research

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Wednesday, 26 February, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Martin Weinel & Rob Evans (University of Cardiff, UK)
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The Imitation Game is a new sociological method. It can be used to measure the extent to which different social groups understand each other and provides a new topography of social integration. In this talk, we will outline the theory behind the method and illustrate its application with examples drawn from studies investigating religion, gender, race and sexuality.

 

A Better Life For All? Democratization and Electrification in Post-Apartheid South Africa.

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Thursday, 20 February, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Joachim Wehner co-authored with Verena Kroth and Valentino Larcinese (LSE, UK)
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

Does democracy affect the delivery of essential basic services? And if yes, which elements of democracy trigger changes in implemented policies: enfranchisement, the liberalization of political organization, or both? In 1994, 19 million South Africans gained the right to vote. The ANC promised “a better life for all” including improved household access to electricity. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we exploit heterogeneity in the share of newly enfranchised voters across municipalities to evaluate how franchise extension affected household electrification. Our dataset combines geo-referenced nightlight satellite imagery, 1996 and 2001 census data, and 1995/6 municipal election results. Enfranchisement has a significant positive effect on electrification, but the liberalization of political organization matters, too. Our analysis highlights the potential mediating role of political parties in accounting for service delivery patterns in new democracies.

 

Teaching Resistance, Emancipation and Liberation: Thinking through Women’s Participation in Uganda’s 2011 Elections

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 5 November, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Stella Nyanzi
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

Informed by critical pedagogies, how does an instructor of doctoral students in Africa effectively design an interdisciplinary course on diverse cultures of dissent and resistance? What could be the rationale and content of such a course within a public university? Based on reflexive immersion within a three-months’ fulltime residential fellowship devoted to developing a teaching course and analysing ethnographic data, I critically examine the processes and challenges of developing a well-theorised and grounded interdisciplinary course. I discuss themes and materials for a course entitled “Protest, Rebellion and Dissent in Revolutionary Social Movements”. I also analyse in detail the specific application of one thematic focus on women’s resistance through participation in Uganda’s recent elections. In addition to highlighting potential impacts of such a course upon both instructor and students, and highlighting key findings of the ethnographic research, the paper contributes towards discussions of Africanising critical pedagogies through decolonising doctoral curricula.

Understanding young people’s political attitudes through narrative: An analysis of student’s letters to the President

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 29 October, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Fiona Wairimu Ngarachu PhD candidate University of Southampton
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

There has been a turn to narrative in social science as a way of understanding how citizens understand and relate to the social world. As human beings our lives are “storied” and this is a rich area of analysis for social scientists. Narratives can take many forms be it the written word, spoken or even in the case of visual narratives. The written narrative is what is of interest in this particular paper. In a pilot study that is part of a wider PhD project; young people in secondary schools in Kenya were asked to write a letter to the President of the Nation. This paper will report on the findings from these letters through a narrative analysis lens influenced greatly by the work of Corrine Squire, Catherine Riesman and Molly Andrews. This is in an effort to highlight how young people are reproducing and contesting popular political attitudes and how their interpretations give us an insight into their understanding of the past and hopes for the future.

 

Reading the Western Cape farm workers’ strike as part of a series of developing intergroup interactions

Event type: 
Seminar
Date and time: 
Tuesday, 22 October, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter(s): 
Philippa Kerr, PhD candidate in Psychology, UKZN
Venue: 
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4,Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

This presentation is an attempt to think through intergroup interaction and social change in the Hex Valley – the grape farming region that was the centre of the Western Cape farm workers’ strike – using the work of Drury and Reicher (2000). They argue that social identity is a model of one’s location in a set of social relations as well as the actions that are proper and possible given that location.  However, rather than assuming that people in crowd events only act in ways that are determined by their social identity, Drury and Reicher ask how one’s model of social relations can become modified by acting in terms of that model.  This is possible because crowd events are unfolding, dynamic intergroup interactions in which one group’s actions are interpreted by the other in sometimes unanticipated ways and form the context for its response. The relationship between identity, intention and consequence is therefore not a straightforward one. Of crucial importance in the development of the intergroup relationship, then, are groups’ constructions of one another’s actions, as these render certain responses legitimate and justifiable (Stott, Drury & Reicher, 2013).  This presentation is an attempt to apply these ideas to events in the Hex Valley.  In this view, the strike was but one moment in a longer history of developing intergroup interactions. Beginning rather arbitrarily with the strike itself, striking workers levelled a challenge at farmers which farmers were able to evade because of their construction of themselves as blameless, the strike as politically motivated and its instigators as evil-intentioned. This non-engagement led to greater frustration on the part of workers, leading to further violence and eventually to the government’s intervention with the R105 minimum wage.  In response, farmers have retrenched more workers and reduced hours – which further angers workers who interpret this as a racist ‘punishment’ of strikers rather than as economic necessity. Thus, it is only possible to understand the development of events and changes in the social fabric by understanding groups’ (often incompatible) interpretations of one other’s actions. This analysis implies that history is contingent rather than predestined and that while history in this area is heading in a particular direction, something is needed to break the cycle of morally justified protests leading to further misery and poverty.

 

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