Are you man enough? : a case study of how masculinity is represented and experienced in the South African Police Service

Potgieter, Lario (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The occupation of policing is one that is traditionally associated with men and regarded as a masculine sphere. The South African Police Service (SAPS) is no exception. My thesis seeks to investigate how masculinity is experienced by male and female officers in the SAPS in one specific police station in the Western Cape. Connell’s (1995) three-fold model of the structure of gender in society is used to understand masculinity, along with her distinction between hegemonic and subordinated forms of masculinity. According to this model, gender is structured through power relations, production relations and cathexis. Through an analysis of organisational police culture operating at three levels - formal, institutional and ‘canteen’ (or informal) – I explore the experiences of police officers in this regard. Each of these levels offers a different arena of analysis for understanding the culture of policing in the South African context. In my discussion, I highlight that although Connell’s model of how masculinity is constructed is useful for understanding the dynamics of police culture across these different levels, the experience of masculinity by both male and female police officers has to be understood as a complex process. The idea of a simple hegemonic masculinity is too limiting in understanding gender dynamics and relationships within the institution. My thesis also argues that, within the confines of the SAPS, there is a need to value certain traits perceived as ‘masculine’, such as physical strength, while also taking into consideration the value of other attributes generally perceived as ‘feminine’, such as compassion. The acceptance of a more androgynous police service, with more space for personnel to move between socially accepted gender roles and expectations, is needed. The valuing of these traits should not be gender-specific, but should create opportunities for officers to be able to display both ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits and engage in ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ duties, regardless of their gender. The field research was located at a single police station, referred to as The Dorp Police Station. A qualitative, case study methodology was employed, drawing extensively on in-depth interviews with individual officers along with limited informal and participant observation at the police station. Content analysis of the online version of the official police journal provided an additional source of data for the study. The study also involved an engagement with general and South African literature on masculinity, policing and police culture.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die beroep van polisiëring word tradisioneel beskou as manlike bedryf. Die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisiediens (SAPD) is geen uitsondering nie. My tesis poog om ondersoek in te stel oor hoe ‘manlikheid1’ deur beide manlike en vroulike beamptes in die SAPD by spesifiek polisiestasie in die Wes-Kaap ervaar word. Connell (1995) se drievoudige model van die struktuur van gender in die samelewing word deur die loop van hierdie tesis gebruik om ‘manlikheid’ te verstaan. Tesame hiermee word daar onderskeid getref tussen ‘hegemoniese2 en ondergeskikte vorme van ‘manlikheid’. Volgens hierdie model is gender gestruktureer deur magsverhoudinge, produksieverhoudinge en Cathexis. In hierdie tesis ondersoek ek die ervaringe van polisiebeamptes rakende die drie vlakke - formele, institusionele en ‘kantien’ of informele kultuur - waarop polisiekultur in organisasies funksioneer. Elkeen van hierdie vlakke bied ander gebied van analise wat beter verstandhouding van die polisiekultuur in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks bied. In my bespreking beklemtoon ek dat, alhoewel Connell se model rakende die konstruksie van manlikheid in die samelewing nuttige hulpmiddel is om die dinamika van polisiekultuur oor die bogenoemde vlakke te verstaan, moet daar in ag geneem word dat die ervarings van ‘manlikheid’ van mans en vroue in die polisie komplekse proses behels. Die idee van eenvoudige ‘hegemoniese manlikheid’ is te beperk vir die verstaan van gender dinamika en die verhoudings in die instansie. My tesis beweer ook dat daar behoefte in die SAPD is om waarde te heg aan eienskappe wat as ‘manlik’ beskryf word, soos bv. fisiese krag. Terselfdetyd word daar ook waarde geheg aan eienskappe wat as ‘vroulik’ beskou word, soos bv. deernis. Daar is behoefte vir die aanvaarding van meer androgene polisiediens met meer geleentheid en ruimte vir lede om tussen sosiaal aanvaarbare genderrolle en -verwagtinge te beweeg. Die waardering van hierdie eienskappe behoort nie gender-spesifiek wees nie, maar moet eerder geleenthede skep vir lede om beide ‘manlike’ en ‘vroulike’ pligte te voltooi, ongeag van hul gender. Die veldwerk is gedoen by enkele polisiestasie, waarna verwys word as Die Dorp Polisiestasie. Kwalitatiewe metodologie wat wat gevallestudie behels is gebuik tydens die studie. Daar is gebruik gemaak van indiepte onderhoude met individuele beamptes asook beperkte informele deelnemende waarneming by die polisiestasie. Aanvullende bron van data vir die studie was gevind in die vorm van inhoudsanalise van die amptelike aanlynpolisiejoernaal. Daar is ook in diepte gekyk na die algemene Suid-Afrikaanse literatuur rakende ‘manlikheid’, polisiëring en polisiekultuur.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20203
This item appears in the following collections: