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
Recent and upcoming events
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since the 1980s photographs have played an important role in shaping public perceptions of HIV/AIDS. News reporting on HIV/AIDS has tended to rely on stereotypes which have limited understanding of the epidemic and how it affects different parts of the world. These stereotypes have also tended to reinforce existing prejudices against specific groups of people and regions. In particular, the photographic representation of HIV/AIDS in Africa has largely reproduced familiar images of Africans as ‘victims’. South African photographer Santu Mofokeng provides a radical and alternative way of seeing, and thinking about, the epidemic. This paper considers how Mofokeng’s work provides an opportunity to reflect on the spiritual and social challenges raised by the HIV epidemic in South Africa. Mofokeng’s work strongly resists and challenges stereotypes associated with HIV/AIDS in Africa and offers a powerful alternative way of visually and intellectually engaging with the epidemic.
The provision of real property rights through titling and informal settlements upgrading is thought to have effects that improve slum conditions and reduce poverty. Given the increase in slum-dwellers in developing countries, this is an increasingly important subject. Hitherto, the evidence is scarce, exaggerated, and riddled with serious methodological problems. This paper investigates the effects of subsidized low income housing in Khayelitsha, an urban township in Cape Town, South Africa. It relies on evidence from circumstances in housing allocation that mimic a natural experiment. Using Difference-in-Differences estimation and OLS regressions, I find that freehold titling improved self-reported physical health status and led to an increase in the proportion of teenage pregnancies among beneficiaries. I do not find evidence in support of the hypotheses that real property rights increase labour market participation, household per-capita income and wealth, school dropout rates, psychological health status, and neighbourhood stability and citizen behaviour. The study contributes by examining a more holistic set of effects than most of the studies in the literature which tend to examine at the most three effects in one case study. This is useful for cross-country comparisons. In addition to examining the economic effects in this context, it also makes a more specific contribution by systematically examining the effects of titling on social and political facets in developing countries, which have hitherto remained largely understudied.