“Real men”, “Proper ladies” and mixing in-between : a qualitative study of social cohesion and discrimination in terms of race and gender within residences at Stellenbosch University
Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: My research is motivated by concerns with promoting „transformation‟ in Stellenbosch University, a formerly white Afrikaans University which is still predominantly white in terms of numbers and proportions of students attending the institution. While I argue about the importance of taking measures to promote more „diverse‟ student populations, I am critical of discourses which equate transformation with „improving‟ demographic profiles defined in terms of numbers of black, white, coloured and Indian students. I argue that understandings of transformation and diversity need to engage with the students‟ views and experiences of the university in order to make meaningful change with regard to social cohesion and integration, which goes beyond statistical change. My research does this by exploring how students from particular residences, in Stellenbosch University, construct and experience university and residence life and their own identifications. The students were interviewed in friendship groups, selected by the students themselves, and a key concern of mine was to facilitate conversations with them on broad themes relating to their reasons for coming to Stellenbosch and their interests, aspirations, motivations, identifications and disidentifications as particular students in particular residences in Stellenbosch. I was particularly concerned to pick up on issues which the students raised in these „focus group discussions‟ so that the students, themselves, played a key role in setting the agenda in the discussion and they and their reflections on their experiences and constructions of themselves and others became the topic of discussion. Rather than taking the group interview as an „instrument‟ (as interviews, like questionnaires, are often described in methods texts in the social sciences), I write about it as ethnographic encounter involving them and myself as participants, and I explore insights about the nature of their friendships and relationships derived from first-hand experience, of how they engage with their selected friends and with me in the research group. Furthermore, by engaging with them as authorities about their lives and identifications as particular kinds of students at Stellenbosch, and posing questions which encouraged them to reflect on these. I argue that this kind of research can itself become a model of good pedagogic and „transformative‟ practice.
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