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Problematizing unemployment : the competing representations of unemployment and the implications thereof

Symes, Caylynne Elizabeth (2013-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.



ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Unemployment has been recognized as one of the most important social problems worldwide as most countries suffer from some unemployment. South Africa’s high unemployment rate has led to an abundance of research on the topic. A vast majority of the research available on unemployment in South Africa is positivist in nature. This study instead uses an interpretivist approach to analyse the problem of unemployment in South Africa. The study uses Carol Bacchi’s approach to provide a different way of analysing the problem of unemployment in South Africa. Bacchi’s approach allows the analyst to focus on problem representations and how these representations shape what is discussed and what is not discussed about the topic. This study demonstrates the application of Bacchi’s approach and focuses on the problem representations of the significant actors involved with unemployment, namely the South African government, business, COSATU and the SACP. The study focuses on the effects of the problem representations of unemployment, in particular the discursive and political effects. This study argues that Bacchi’s approach is a useful tool for the analysis of unemployment. It is also argued in this study that the approach provides insights into the problem of unemployment by highlighting what is not discussed in the problem representations of the significant actors. By sensitizing individuals to what is excluded in the problem representations, it is argued that solutions which negate the negative effects of such representations can be found. Bacchi’s approach highlighted a number of problem representations of unemployment. The study found that some problem representations were shared by one or more actors and that divergence exist between the representations of other actors. The shared and divergent representations focused on the tripartite alliance due to the significance of the alliance in South African politics. The shared and divergence representations were demonstrated to either help to towards improving the relationships between actors or, in the case of divergence, increase the tensions in the actor’s relationship with one another. The study also found that the non-government actors’ problem representations of unemployment direct attention to government’s responsibility for dealing with unemployment while minimising their role and contribution to unemployment. The study also demonstrated that the interests of different actors can be identified in the dominant problem representations.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Werkloosheid is ‘n belangrike probleem wat meeste lande raak. Baie navorsing is al in Suid-Afrika gedoen weens sy besonderse hoë werkloosheidyfer. Die meerderheid hiervan is positivisties in benadering. Hierdie navorsing gebruik egter ‘n interpretiewe benadering. Carrol Bacchi se benadering word gebruik as ‘n alternatiewe raamwerk om Suid-Afrika se werkloosheidsprobleem te analiseer. Bacchi se benadering laat die navorser toe om te fokus op hoe die probleem beskou word en hoe hierdie beskouing die keuse van wat ingesluit is en wat nie is nie, beïnvloed. Hierdie navorsing fokus op die sleutelfigure in die werkloosheidsprobleem, naamlik die Suid-Afrikaanse regering, die SACP en COSATU. Die studie benadruk die diskursiewe en politiese effek van die probleembeskouing van werkloosheid. Die studie argumenteer dat Bacchi se benadering waardevolle insigte kan lewer, spesifiek deur onbespreekte kwessies rakende die sleutelfigure uit te lig. Dit word aangevoer dat deur waardering te kweek vir hierdie kwessies, oplossings vir hierdie probleembeskouings gevind kan word. Bacchi se benadering het ‘n paar probleembeskouings uitgelig. Die studie het gevind dat daar ooreenstemming is by sommige figure, terwyl ander s’n uiteenlopend is. Hierdie sienings het gelei tot samegorigheid in die eersgenoemde geval, maar tot verhoogde vlakke van wantroue en spanning in die laasgenoemde geval. Die fokus van hierdie sienings is die drieparty-alliansie, weens sy belangrikheid in SA-politiek. Die studie vind ook dat nieregeringsorganisasies se probleembeskouings die rol van die regering benadruk en hul eie verantwoordelikheid onderspeel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/79921
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