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

Seminar
22 October, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Philippa Kerr, PhD candidate in Psychology, UKZN
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.

 

An alternative way of seeing: Challenging photographic stereotypes of HIV/AIDS in South Africa

Seminar
15 October, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Annabelle Wienand
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

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.

Shack-dwellers to homeowners: Effects of subsidized low-income housing in Cape Town, South Africa

Seminar
1 October, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Singumbe Muyeba, Research Associate, Centre for Social Science Research
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

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.

Productivity of seasonal farm workers in the fruit industry

Seminar
10 September, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Abigail Britton
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

South African agriculture faces many difficulties in the post-Apartheid era, and yet, as a labour-intensive industry it is important for combating unemployment. This paper investigates the drivers of labour productivity and wage structures on fruit farms in the Western Cape, in the aftermath of a minimum wage imposition. Results show that gender, language and number of dependants are significantly correlated with labour productivity on farms. The current picking workforce is overwhelmingly of African descent and employed in casual jobs. Results show that productivity lower on a Monday and Friday than during the rest of the week, perhaps as a result of the legacy of the dop system. The labourers on the three farms are paid on a piece-rate system and it would appear that none earn below the minimum wage of R11.67 an hour, but rather that most earn up to 1.5 times the minimum wage. The discussion suggests ways in which both output per worker and the living standards of workers can be improved.

Economies of scale, predation rates and the profitability of small stock farming in Laingsburg, Central Karoo South Africa

Seminar
27 August, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Beatrice Conradie
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

This paper reports on a questionnaire survey of 64 small stock farms covering 80% of the farmers and 50% of the land in the Laingsburg district in the Central Karoo of South Africa. The survey found a lambing rate (live lambs born per ewe mated) of 80%, a sales rate (lambs sold per ewe mated) of 57% and a total confirmed stock loss rate (lambs plus ewes lost per ewe mated) of 13%. Predation accounted for between two thirds and three quarters of all livestock losses and disproportionately targeted lambs that have been tagged already but where still with their mothers. The average net revenue from mutton sales was R230 per ewe, which was marginally higher than the average of R210 reported for lifestyle farmers (gentlemen or hobby farmers). For commercial farmers, profitability increased with farm size, from R130 to R309 per breeding ewe. If predator losses could be eliminated, the profitability of the average farm’s mutton enterprise would more than double. The annual depredation impact was estimated to be R9.33 per hectare, R99 per ewe mated, R76000 per farm and R7.7 million for the Laingsburg district as a whole. All prices are in 2012 ZAR. However, despite these large costs charged to predation losses, predators were found not to be the main reason for Karoo farmers’ financial vulnerability.

Keywords:  human -wildlife,sheep profitibility,reproductive efficiency,black-backed jackals caracals,Central Karoo. 

Journey mapping: Life histories of farm workers in Laingsburg district

Seminar
20 August, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Inge Conradie (Co-author: Annabelle Wienand)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

This was a case study of the life histories of fifteen casual workers from Laingsburg. With the livelihood difficulties associated with the casualisation of farm workers, the question was raised of why this group of workers return to a community which offers them very little by way of escaping these difficulties? This study found that in fact, not all casual agricultural workers are former permanent on-farm workers. It reveals a more complicated life trajectory than that ascribed to the average casualised farm worker in South Africa.

This group of men have been casual labourers for most of their lives and hence the shifts in agricultural employment practices, due to decades of unremitting legislative changes, have had a relatively small impact on their lives. They are not necessarily trapped in the agricultural sector or rural communities, rather there are factors, such as a distinct association of the city with danger, pushing them towards Karoo living. Simultaneously there are strong pull factors keeping them rooted in this community: their self-association with a farm worker identity, a migratory tradition and social networks as sources of employment, income security and high dependence on grants are all factors that play into the life and work trajectory this group of casual workers

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GroundUp is a community news organisation. We focus on social justice stories in vulnerable communities. We want our stories to make a difference. When we uncovered corruption at the Department of Home Affairs, the department investigated it. When we reported that the streetlights in Khayelitsha were broken, the City fixed them. We don't only want to report the world; we want to change it.

We are looking for local and international university students or graduates who would like to volunteer with us. This is substantial work; we won't make you do the photocopying. We expect you to be independent and willing to go out and find hard hitting important stories that will be published under your byline.

To volunteer for us, please email info@groundup.org.za.

Here is what volunteers have said about GroundUp:

As an intern with GroundUp over the summer, I was given the freedom to explore topics that truly interested me. This is not a typical internship filled with busy work and mindless tasks. At GroundUp, I was treated as a colleague rather than a subordinate. I have built relationships and a written portfolio that I look forward to sharing with everyone back home in the States. I will be earning my Masters of Public Health, so I ended up writing feature pieces on HPV and circumcision. By writing pieces that were relevant to my academic and professional interests, I learned a great deal about the state of public health in South Africa and the inner workings of community journalism. I would definitely encourage students visiting South Africa from abroad to intern with GroundUp.
-- Edirin Okoloko, Yale

Jackal Narratives and Predator Control in the Karoo

Seminar
6 August, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Nicoli Nattrass & Beatrice Conradie
CSSR Seminar,R4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

This paper discusses the historical roots of, and scientific evidence for, rival ‘jackal narratives’ about the problems posed by black-backed jackals for South African sheep farmers and conservation policy more broadly. The jackal has recently decolonised many South African sheep farms as agriculture became less economically and politically important, as land use patterns changed and as government stopped subsidising predator control. The influential ‘environmental jackal narrative’ shaping conservation policy, that lethal control is undesirable and ineffective, is rooted in the science of predator ecology but the linked recommendation that farmers learn to ‘live with the jackal’ is on less solid ground. The rival ‘farmer jackal narrative’, that jackal populations need to be suppressed on agricultural lands, in fact resonates with conservation theories justifying the culling of jackals in national parks. Contestation over values is important in shaping attitudes, but these competing plausible hypotheses about jackal control suggest that further scientific studies may be helpful in the construction of policies that are acceptable to both sides.

 

" Discourses of “deservingness”: Regulating access to disability grants in South Africa.

Seminar
30 July, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Gabrielle Kelly
CSSR Seminar Room,R4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

The disability grant (DG) has featured prominently in debates around social security in South Africa, both inside and outside government, because it has raised major questions about social development and poverty alleviation strategies that extend well beyond concerns about disability.  Debates around how to regulate access to the DG and who “deserves” the grant reveal discursive tensions within government and civil society around concepts of disability and the value of social grants as a developmental intervention. In this seminar I will discuss the recent history of DG regulation and the discourses of "deservingness" that are visible in the debates on how to manage access to the grant. This is based on an analysis of minutes and recordings of parliamentary debates, legislation, policy documents and departmental plans and reports. 

 

Families, Kin and the State in South Africa

Workshop
14 August, 2013 - 09:00 to 18:00
Prof Jeremy Seekings & Dr Elena Moore
CSSR Seminar Room,R4.29 ,level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

Policies and laws are important in shaping family and personal relationships both in terms of the assumptions they make about normative family life but also in the resources they provide to improve people’s well-being.

The workshop sets out some of the ways in which the law and policy in South Africa affect family lives and relationships. Drawing on new in-depth research on people’s experience of customary marriage and research on care, the workshop will address questions of how to support care and commitments in personal and family relationships.  The workshop hopes to provide a considered and politically relevant perspective on these issues, important for researchers, policy-makers and students alike. 

 

 

Workshop on Social Protection

Researchers and practitioners - including a team from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) - met for a workshop on Social Protection in Africa in the CSSR on 27-28 May. Sessions focused on: new technologies of identification and registration of beneficiaries and the delivery of grants; the local politics of grants in South Africa; and the politics of cash transfers in Africa. Viviene Taylor and Isobel Frye discussed some of their experiences in policy-making in South Africa. The workshop was organised by Kevin Donovan, who has just completed his Masters thesis on the use of biometric technology in South Africa's welfare programmes.

Farmers, farmworkers and conservation in the Karoo

SSU researchers have been busy in the Karoo.  On June 13, a group of workers from Laingsburg spent the day in a workshop run by UCT Honours student Inge Conradie, assisted by PhD student Annabelle Wienand. The workshop focused on their employment histories, The previous week, Beatrice Conradie, Marine Drouilly and Nicoli Nattrass presented ongoing work on the history, economics and biology of predator problems, to a group of Karoo sheep farmers. Both events were held at the Lainsburg Flood Museum. We are grateful for the support and assistance of the farmers, notably Lukas Botes and Piet Gouws in making this research possible. Nicoli and Beatrice's first paper on "jackal narratives" is available as CSSR Working Paper 324.

GroundUp story makes the Cape Times front page

GroundUp was responsible for the lead story on the Cape Times today (21 May), exposing corruption in the Lingelethu West Traffic Station in Khayelitsha. Read the story and the accompanying editorial. GroundUp is a community journalism initiative, run by Nathan Geffen, and based on a collaboration between the CSSR at UCT and the Community Media Trust. We are looking for students interested in helping with the project.
 

Tax(i)ing the poor- transport and labour market outcomes in South Africa.

Seminar
21 May, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Andrew Kerr
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science,Room 4.29 Upper Campus.
Abstract / Description: 

This paper explores the effects of the low density of South African cities on commuting times and costs, as well as labour market outcomes. Commute times for workers are much longer than OECD countries- average commute times for black South Africans are 2.5 times longer than EU commutes and twice as long as US commutes. Monetary costs are also relatively high for those that pay to commute, although a substantial fraction of workers walk to work.
Minibus taxis are the dominant mode of transport for commuters in South Africa but they are also more expensive than publicly funded or subsidised buses and trains. The recent bus driver’s strike illustrates that an alternative to government provided buses is good for commuters. However the government’s current policy seems to favour a shift towards publicly funded buses and away from minibus taxis. I discuss the pros and cons of this policy.
 

Food Security and the Urban Food Policy Gap

Seminar
14 May, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Jane Battersby-Lennard
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science,Room 4.29 Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The right to food and the challenge of food insecurity are being increasingly articulated in public statements of the ANC, DA, COSATU and other political players. However, while the right to food and food insecurity are gaining increased public political presence, this paper argues that the existing policy responses have significant gaps. The ‘face of food insecurity’ is increasingly urban and the food security and yet current food security policies lack an explicitly urban focus, leaving cities with no mandate to address food insecurity and the wider urban food system. The outcome of this is urban policies and by-laws that ultimately hinder access to food for low-income residents of cities. This paper presents data from the AFSUN Cape Town baseline survey to argue for the development of a specifically urban response to food insecurity.  

 

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