The CSSR is running a 3-day course on "Doing Research for researchers" at the South African Parliament. The course, from 25-27 June, has been designed to help parliamentary researchers to reflect critically on the design, practice and presentation of research. We live in a world where information is abundant: the challenge facing researchers is often not so much “how do we collect new information?” as “how do we make good use of the information that is already available?” We have to avoid being overwhelmed by the volume of information, distinguish between reliable and unreliable information, and present our findings effectively and honestly. The course examines how we collect the information that we need, how we make sure that we have good information, how we can use quantitative data sensibly and critically, how we organize our analyses, and how we communicate our analysis to our audiences.
PhD student Carlos Shenga has won the 2012 UPEACE-IDRC Doctoral Research Award! The Award covers generous tuition and research expenses.
The doctoral research award is part of a joint undertaking by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UN University for Peace (UPEACE) to develop an evidence-based, strong research capacity in Africa on critical issues of governance and security.
Congratulations to Carlos!
The South African edition of The AIDS Conspiracy: Science fights back, ASRU director Prof Nicoli Nattrass's latest book, will be launched on 30 May 2012 at The Book Lounge in Cape Town. The author will be in conversation with Nathan Geffen, ASRU fellow and treasurer of the Treatment Action Campaign.
Prof Jeremy Seekings, director of the CSSR, will be speaking at DataFirst's "roadshow" for social scientists next Friday about opportunities for social scientists at UCT to analyse the CSSR's Cape Area Panel Study dataset. DataFirst will also demonstrate their online data portal and explain how to access support on data and analysis for your research. All CSSR researchers and students are encouraged to attend. The event is open to all.
11 May 2012
12:00 - 13:00
LS2B, Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Prof Martin Wittenberg (Director: DataFirst)
Prof Jeremy Seekings (Director: CSSR)
Eduard Grebe (DataFirst Upper Campus support officer)
ASRU PhD student Eduard Grebe last week presented research results and reflections on the state of global AIDS advocacy at two events in Switzerland. On 17 April he presented a paper titled "The challenge of transnational prevention and treatment advocacy in an era of resource constraints and shifting global priorities: Reflections from South Africa" at the 2012 aidsfocus.ch conference in Berne under the theme "HIV, AIDS and Advocacy. Bringing about change in policies and practice". His comments focused on the challenges faced by the treatment access movement in the face of a backlash against AIDS-specific funding, a severely constrained financial environment (with industrialised countries reducing their contributions to global AIDS efforts), turmoil at the Global Fund and a shift in attention to other challenges like climate change.
On 19 April he presented a paper titled "The Treatment Action Campaign's struggle for AIDS treatment in South Africa" to the Etnologisches Seminar Basel at the University of Basel, in which he drew on his PhD research and joint work with Nicoli Nattrass to demonstrate the movement's effectiveness at the political and community levels, as well as its "political repertoire" and style of organisation.
Prof Robert Mattes gave a presentation to a well attended Symposium for Civil Society on Recent Research on African Legislatures: Namibia in Comparative Perspective hosted by the Namibia Institute for Democracy (NID) in Windhoek on 30 March 2012. The ALP presentation was on Institutionalising Democracy in Africa? Assessing the State of Legislatures. Presentations made by Namibian NGOs included: Democracy Report – analysing, monitoring and supporting the work of Namibia’s parliament, by Graham Hopwood from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) and The Influence of Non-Governmental Organisations on the Parliamentary Law-Making process in Namibia, by Theunis Keulder of Namibia Institute for Democracy.
ASRU director Prof Nicoli Nattrass has written a new book, The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back, in which she explores conspiracy theories on the origins of AIDS (such as that it was manufactured by the US government), their surprising longevity, the campaign by scientists to combat spurious conspiracy theories and the consequences of these myths for behaviour. The book is published in the United States by Columbia University Press and will be released in South Africa in April by Wits University Press. An ebook is available in the Amazon Kindle store.
There is a substantial body of evidence showing that HIV causes AIDS—and that antiretroviral treatment (ART) has turned the viral infection from a death sentence into a chronic disease.1 Yet a small group of AIDS denialists keeps alive the conspiratorial argument that ART is harmful and that HIV science has been corrupted by commercial interests. Unfortunately, AIDS denialists have had a disproportionate effect on efforts to stem the AIDS epidemic. In 2000, South African President Thabo Mbeki took these claims seriously, opting to debate the issue, thus delaying the introduction of ART into the South African public health sector. At least 330,000 South Africans died unnecessarily as a result.
The “hero scientist” of AIDS denialism, University of California, Berkeley, virologist Peter Duesberg, argues that HIV is a harmless passenger virus and that ART is toxic, even a cause of AIDS. He has done no clinical research on HIV and ignores the many rebuttals of his claims in the scientific literature.4,5 As I describe in my new book, The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back, this has prompted further direct action against Duesberg by the pro-science community.
Prof Robert Mattes, Director of the Democracy in Africa Research Unit, recently participated in a panel discussion on "Multiple Meanings of Democracy: Citizen Voices from Across the World" in Bangalore, India. The symposium was organised by the Centre for Research in Social Science Education of Jain University, Centre for Public Policy, IIM-B, Institute of Contemporary Studies, Bangalore.
The programme of CSSR seminars for the first semster has been released. You can read it below or download the programme in PDF format.
All seminars start promptly at 13:00. Lunch is usually available from 12:40.
Venue: CSSR Seminar Room, R4.29, Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Duncan Pieterse (Economics/CSSR)
Exposure to violence and educational outcomes in Cape Town
Zöe Gauld (Sociology/CSSR)
Multi-dimensional approaches to affirmative action in university admissions
Nicoli Nattrass (Economics/CSSR)
Socioeconomic, biological and behavioural correlates of HIV status among young Black South Africans in Cape Town, South Africa
It reports on our main research and teaching initiatives, including
- The expansion of the CSSR with new appointments (including those of Prof Rajen Govender and Dr Pedro Wolf);
- An extraordinary number of graduations by Masters and Doctoral scholarship students from the CSSR;
- The launch by DataFirst in partnership with the CSSR of a dedicated support service for humanities researchers using survey data in quantitative studies;
- The launch of new short courses to build capacity within the university community and in civil society, including a pilot course on quantitative methods in the analysis of public opinion data in collaboration with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation;
- A large number of working papers published by the CSSR and peer reviewed publications by CSSR researchers;
- And much more!
Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings lectured in a UCT Summer School course on "The Human Question". The first lecture in the series was given by Mark Solms of UCT's Psychology Department. His lecture, entitled "the animal mind within us", examined the neurological similarities and differences between the human brain and brains of other primates, mammals and vertebrates. Nicoli Nattrass followed, with a lecture on different conceptions of the human in economics. She drew on both classical economic theory and recent experimental research to show that conceptions of "homo economicus" neglect both non-rational aspects of economic behaviour and our social and cultural embeddedness. Jeremy Seekings examined the similarities between classical political theorists and contemporary primatologists in debates over the differences between chimpanzees and humans.
Quantitative Studies of Violence in South Africa
30 January – 9 February 2012
Prof. Rajen Govender (Dept of Sociology and CSSR)
Dr. Pedro Wolf (Department of Psychology and CSSR)
assisted by Eduard Grebe (DataFirst)
The CSSR will be hosting a short summer school course in the use of quantitative methods in research on violence in South Africa. The purpose of the course is to introduce basic, intermediate and some advanced topics in quantitative analysis so that students have a richer critical understanding of the methods used in existing studies and some capacity to conduct such analyses themselves. Using recent social scientific studies of violence in South Africa and the datasets used in these publications, the course will focus on understanding how social scientists have and can use quantitative data to identify the levels and causes of South Africa’s high levels of violence. The course will examine neighbourhood- and individual-level datasets. Using the software SPSS, the course will cover the following aspects of quantitative analysis:
- Identifying and defining research questions and setting up research hypotheses;
- Generating statistics for the description of research data and the testing of univariate hypotheses;
- Undertaking bivariate and multivariate inferential analysis using statistical techniques applicable to both continuous and categorical independent and dependent variables;
- Introduction to advanced multivariate analysis using path analysis and structural equations modelling.
In addition to daily class assignments, the main assignment of the course will be the set-up and execution of a short research paper using an identified dataset.
The course lasts nine days, with an optional session for students who are not familiar with SPSS but have used other software such as Stata. The course is offered for free by the Centre for Social Science Research, but students must organise their own accommodation, travel and food.
The Centre for Social Science Research congratulates Beth Vale, who won a Rhodes scholarship last week. Beth is a Master's student in the AIDS and Society Research Unit. Her MA thesis focuses on understandings of care among a group of community health workers.
From September 2012, Beth will begin a D.Phil in Social Intervention at Oxford University. She will be co-supervised by Dr Lucie Cluver, principle investigator in the department of Social Policy and Intervention, and Dr Jonny Steinberg, departmental lecturer in the African Studies Centre. Beth's doctoral thesis will be a qualitative study exploring how AIDS-effected families respond to primary healthcare services, with an aim to inform social policy and intervention in South Africa.
Quantitative analysis of public opinion data using the SA Reconciliation Barometer
Applications have closed.
- 14-18 November 2011
- Optional preparatory workshop: 11 November 2011
- CSSR Seminar Room, Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
- Prof Rajen Govender (CSSR and Dept of Sociology)
- Dr Pedro Wolf (CSSR and Dept of Psychology)
- assisted by Eduard Grebe (DataFirst)
About the workshop
The SA Reconciliation Barometer (SARB) is a national public opinion poll conducted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) that tracks progress in reconciliation across a range of multidimensional indicators, including political culture and relations, human security, dialogue, historical confrontation and social relations. Besides the published indicators, the dataset can be a source for much more detailed analyses. To encourage this, the CSSR in conjunction with DataFirst is using the SARB dataset to demonstrate the application of more intermediate and advanced multivariate analytic techniques. These techniques have been selected as they permit the development and testing of much richer theoretical formulations and hypotheses using the SARB data.