CSSR research acknowledged

UCT’s Research Report for 2015 highlights a range of research conducted by CSSR researchers: Elena Moore’s work on customary marriage (conducted with Professor Chuma Himonga in the Law Faculty), Rebecca Hodes’ research on the history of abortion, Jeremy Seekings’ and Nicoli Nattrass’ book Policy, Politics and Poverty, and Bob Mattes’ work on school students’ knowledge of and attitudes towards democracy.

2016 Summer School cancelled

For about ten years the CSSR together with Afrobarometer have held an annual Summer School  in applied social science research methods applied to political and social issues facing contemporary Africa. Several hundred mostly junior researchers from universities and research organizations across Africa, as well as UCT post graduate students, have participated. Our Summer Schools are generously supported by, inter alia, the Andrew Mellon Foundation.

This year we have regrettably decided that we are unable to hold our annual Summer School.

ASRU Postdoctoral Fellowship Mzantsi Wakho (Closes 15th November 2016)

The AIDS and Society Research Unit (ASRU) at the Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship for a suitably qualified individual to join a research project on adolescent health in South Africa. For more information please visit www.mzantsiwakho.org.za).

FaSRU researchers at Yale

Lwando Scott and Isaac Chinyoka, both undertaking doctoral research at FaSRU, caught up at Yale recently. Lwando was presenting a lunchtime seminar on 'Same-Sex Marriage in South Africa' while Isaac received the Fox Fellowship and is spending the 2016-2017 academic year at Yale. 


Workshop on Contemporary Zambia

As part of its expanding engagement with African politics and public policy, the CSSR hosted a workshop on contemporary Zambia on 30 and 31 September. The focus of the workshop was on the controversial elections in August 2016. Three presenters were from Lusaka: Dr Marja Hinfelaar (who spoke about the historical background to the elections), Dr Neo Simutanyi (on their significance) and Dr Tinenenji Banda (who analysed the legal process surrounding the 'petition' to the constitutional court to set aside the results ). Professor Ndangwa Noyoo from the University of Johannesburg spoke about the authoritarian streak in Zambian politics and successive government's failure to address the 'Barotse question'. , Dr Mundia Kabinga of UCT's GSB spoke about the economic context, and Hangala Siachiwena (of the CSSR and Sociology Department) dissected the election results themselves. The workshop was organised by Hangala Siachiwena.

FaSRU researcher, Kirsty Button, awarded a distinction

Congratulations go to Kristy Button, a postgraduate researcher at FaSRU. Her thesis "Household economies of low-income, African female-headed households in Khayelitsha: intergenerational support, conflict, and tension", completed in June at the Sociology Department, was awarded a Distinction from both external examiners. Kirsty will be continuing her research in this area by undertaking a doctorate in the coming months.

Elections in Zambia

Zambia will be holding presidential and parliamentary elections in August, and there is a good chance that the incumbent president (Edgar Lungu) and his Patriotic Front will lose power to Hakainde Hichilema and the United Party for National Development. On 4 July, the CSSR held an informal discussion of the forthcoming elections. Prof Horman Chitonge (of the Centre for African Studies), Dr Mundia Kabinga (of the Graduate School of Business) and Hangala Siachiwena (a PhD student in Sociology and the CSSR) led the discussion. The event was organised by Hangala, whose research focuses on the effects of change of government on social policy-making (see Hangala's Working Paper on policy reforms under the 2011-14 Zambian government). The CSSR intends to hold a workshop on the election results in early September.

Mzantsi Wakho web page launched - http://www.mzantsiwakho.org

Mzantsi Wakho (‘Your South Africa’) is based in the Amathole District of the Eastern Cape. Its academic homes are at the University of Cape Town, and Oxford University’s Department of Social Policy and Intervention.
The study seeks to answer several research questions about youth health, with a focus on medicines-taking and sexual and reproductive health. It uses multiple methods and data sources to identify and investigate risk and resilience-promoting factors, through linked qualitative and quantitative studies.

Students present papers at 'Unequal Families and Relationships' conference

Kirsty Button and Nicole Daniels in Edinburgh

Congratulations to three of our PG students,  Isaac Chinyoka,  Nicole Daniels and Kirsty Button,  who presented papers at international conference: Unequal Families and Relationships.   The conference organised by the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships was held at The University of Edinburgh, 13-15 June 2016.  The students were supported by the  Families and Societies Research Unit at the CSSR,  directed by Elena Moore. Elena and the team wish to express their gratitude for the warm welcome they received from Prof.  Lynn Jamieson.  

Print media coverage of community protests in South Africa

17 May, 2016 -
12:45 to 14:00
Dr Tanja Bosch, Dr Wallace Chuma & Prof Herman Wasserman (Centre for Film and Media Studies)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Since the end of apartheid, there has been a steady increase in community protests in South Africa, as a result of growing citizen frustration and tensions.  High levels of unemployment, increasing inequality, shortages of housing, water and sanitation, electricity; corruption and municipal administration, health and crime, have all been listed as reasons for the protests, often described as a ‘rebellion of the poor’. The authors will present the findings of a quantitative content analysis, which explored the nature of mainstream print media coverage of the protests and offer reflections of how the protests are framed in relation to democracy. The community protests represent a form of bottom up resistance, raising issues of the politics of inclusion and exclusion. Moreover, the political realm is shaped by media coverage of the protests – when the media focuses only on violent protests, or frames protests as nothing more than a traffic disturbance – it shapes the nature of how these groups are given voice in mainstream media.

Contested notions of disablement and 'deservingness' in disability grant assessments in South Africa

10 May, 2016 -
12:45 to 14:00
Gabby Kelly (CSSR)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

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.

Unemployment in low-income, African female-headed households in Cape Town: House economies, survival strategies and support systems.

3 May, 2016 -
12:45 to 14:00
Kirsty Button (CSSR)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

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.

Isaac Chinyoka wins Fox Fellowship

Isaac Chinyoka - a PhD student in the CSSR and Sociology Department - has won a prestigious Fox International Fellowship to spend 2016-17 at Yale. Isaac is following in the footsteps of previous CSSR PhD students who have won a Fox Fellowship at Yale, including Brendan Maughan-Brown, Colin Almeleh, Ed Grebe, Singumbe Muyeba, Duncan Pieterse and Gabby Kelly. Isaac's PhD is on child welfare regimes in Southern Africa. He will have completed his fieldwork (in four Southern African countries) by the time he goes to Yale, and will use the opportunity to write up his PhD. Isaac is a researcher on the LIWPR (Legislating and Implementing Welfare Policy Reforms) project. His analysis of Zimbabwean policy reforms under the coalition government (2009-13) - coauthored with Jeremy Seekings - is published as CSSR Working Paper 373.

Testing for Du Bois’s ‘Double Consciousness’ in Contemporary South Africa

26 April, 2016 -
12:45 to 14:00
Professor Jeremy Seekings
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

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.

Latest Research: Why democracy should be taught in South African schools

Research has revealed that South African learners born after the end of apartheid, the so-called ‘born-free’ generation, are less supportive of democracy than their parents or older generations in comparable studies. Worryingly, only 60% of students believed that democracy is always preferable, and only 45% said that it is important for them to live in a country that is governed democratically. However, the same study has shown that civic education has an important role to play in encouraging a ‘demand for democracy’ among South African youth.

Read more: https://www.uct.ac.za/dailynews/?id=9677