Doctoral Degrees (Sociology and Social Anthropology)

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    Rural farmers’ adaptive and transformative capacity in response to climate change and artisanal small-scale mining in rural Gwanda, Zimbabwe, 1980 to 2021
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2024-03 ) Moyo, Vuyisile Precious; Heinecken, Lindy; Robins, Steven; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Sociology and Social Anthropology.
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    Illuminating energy poverty: a case study of the energy needs and challenges of low-income households in De Aar, a renewable energy hub in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province
    (2023-03 ) Borchardt, Stephanie Paula; Walker, Cherryl; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Sociology and Social Anthropology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation aims to examine the energy needs and energy challenges facing low-income households in the small Karoo town of De Aar, in the Northern Cape in the context of a local municipality that is struggling to sustain their electricity distribution. This is then further explored in relation to the significant investment in renewable energy that is currently taking place around the town, as part of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). This dissertation does so through a mixed method case study of household energy poverty and precarity in Kareeville, a low-income neighborhood of De Aar which is supplemented by research on the Emthanjeni Local Municipality regarding its socio-economic challenges and energy infrastructure issues as well as on the contribution that renewable energy companies are making to local economic development. This research made use of a case study design which I have employed through a mixed methods approach involving semi-structured in-depth interviews, observation, social media, policy and document analysis and a survey with key informants, residents from Kareeville, local municipal officials, NGO personal, farmers and representatives from renewable energy companies in De Aar. My primary research findings reveal that energy poverty is endemic in Kareeville residential area. Whilst households have access to electricity, the affordability of the resource remains outside of their grasp. Managing household energy consumption in poor households is therefore a constant source of stress. Households employ various strategies to secure not only electricity but other fuel types such as wood, paraffin, and gas to meet their most basic of needs. Tensions around daily energy challenges play out across gender and generational lines, with household members often pitted against each other in terms of their individual and collective energy needs and preferences. The burden of energy management in financially stressed households is often felt particularly heavily by older women who, because of their gender and age, are unlikely to be working outside the home and are responsible for cooking, cleaning, and childcare. From this perspective renewable energy companies in the local municipality could make an important contribution to local development through securing the towns energy supply and providing affordable electricity to the communities. Their development programmes, while making some contribution, only benefit a select few on a short-term basis. The top-down approach from renewable energy companies towards community development appear as tick-box exercises and remain ineffective with regards to upliftment and empowerment of households. The lack of coordination of development projects and communication amongst the REIPPPP companies and the local municipality only deepens the mistrust between the two and could potentially lead to an explosive engagement. In conclusion, this study raises issues related to policy implementations and impacts that are not playing out as intended. The study stresses the importance of a sustainable development of renewable energy as part of South Africa’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions but also as having the potential to uplift and impact local households in the ‘host’ towns of the REIPPPP.
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    Coping and social support strategies of Nigerian military widows in the war against Boko Haram
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-03) Ajala, Olufisayo Temitope; Heinecken, Lindy; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Sociology and Social Anthropology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The Nigerian Army has been engaged in asymmetric warfare with the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram since 2011, which is the single largest deployment of soldiers in any internal security operation in post-independence Nigeria. Since then, there has been an uncountable loss of military personnel and civilian casualties caught up in this conflict. This study examined how the Nigerian Army widows coped with their husbands' deaths and sustained their livelihoods in the absence of state support. The study looked at the welfare benefits for deceased servicemen in the Nigerian Army, the numerous challenges women faced in accessing the benefits, the influence and support provided by the military widows Association, the coping and social support strategies they adopted and the effect of the deaths on their livelihoods. The study contained seven chapters that include the background, theoretical and literature review, Nigerian Army structure and organization, widowhood in Nigeria, findings, methodology, and discussions of the study. The background chapter established the rationale of the study, locating it within the limited attention paid to military casualties of the conflict, and the need to understand the impact of the war on widows, and the military community. The theoretical and conceptual framework chapter discussed the bureaucracy, social capital and social support theories, and the extant literature on compensations for military widows, their challenges, and how they differ across various militaries. This chapter examines the coping and social support strategies used by military widows and other war widows in various societies. The next chapters focused on the Nigerian military and widowhood in Nigeria and discusses the structure, operations, and welfare schemes of the Nigerian Army. This chapter identified the dysfunctional nature of Nigeria’s military bureaucracy as a major factor impeding the payment of benefits to military widows, whereas the chapter on widowhood looked at the coping environment of widows in Nigerian society, and those of military widows from past operations. Further discussed in this chapter was the role and influence of the Nigerian Military Wives and Widows Associations. Following these were the methodology, findings, and discussion chapters. An interpretive qualitative method was used in this work to describe and derive meaning from the lived experiences of widows of Nigerian Army soldiers whose husbands died in the war against Boko Haram. The study was conducted over a period of four months from December 2020 to March 2021 in Lagos, Abuja, and Maiduguri in the Southern and Northern parts of Nigeria. Data for the study was collected in other sites in Jos, Bauchi, Osogbo and Ilorin, and virtually, through video-conferencing platforms and phone interviews. A total of 29 interviews with widows, and 14 interviews with members of the media, civil society and military communities were conducted during the period of the fieldwork. A key finding was the difficulties the women faced in accessing their benefits. Most of the participants experienced a lack of support from military officials in processing their benefits and were left alone to deal with a large and inefficient bureaucracy. However, some experienced more difficulties than others. Widows of officers were more able to access their benefits compared to those of non-commissioned officers due to their social status and personal connections within the military. For all widows, accessing benefits was influenced by a system of patronage. It was found that the Nigerian military bureaucracy functions along neo-patrimonial lines, which hampers the efficient functioning of the military bureaucracy and opens the way to corruption and the exploitation of women. Another key finding of the study was the support provided by the Military Widows Association. The discussions revealed that the Association has been able to provide some form of bridging social capital, the lacked the resources and ability to provide linking social capital to access the military institution and the wider civil society. Without state and associational support, military widows turned to their families and social charities for support. While families provided bonding capital that helped women cope and survive, this was limited by the cultural demands placed on widows in African societies. In comparison with other studies on military widows, an important finding within the African context was that bonding capital was often eroded by the traditional practices that occasioned widowhood, such as property inheritance, forced remarriage, and other forms of social vulnerability and stigmatization. Hence, they resort to other coping resources, such as spirituality, resilience, and personal strength to cope with the loss. Finally, this study evaluated the impact of death on the livelihood of women. The findings revealed that the death significantly altered the socioeconomic lives and ivelihood strategies of the women. The widows struggled with raising and educating children, playing dual parent roles, and overall family maintenance following their husband’s demise. Furthermore, the women’s vulnerable conditions were exploited by relatives who demanded their share of the late husband’s entitlements to members of the Nigerian military. They also encountered various forms of sexual exploitation, in exchange for their late husband's benefits from Nigerian Army officials. The study’s key conclusions are that Nigerian military widows experienced key difficulties accessing their benefits due to the centralized and dysfunctional nature of the neo-patrimonial Nigerian military bureaucracy. Although it was expected that the Military Widows Association would support the widows, their agency was limited by their lack of capacity to provide the needed bridging and linking social capital, and negative attitudes towards the military by wider society. As a result, they resorted to using different economic, social, and psychological support strategies, depending on the reach of their social capital, status, and education. The useful recommendations highlighted by this study include the need for the Nigerian military to streamline the bureaucracy associated with payments of benefits. Other recommendations are the establishment of a military ombudsman to address issues of bribery and sexual exploitation perpetrated by officers against widows and NOKs of deceased soldiers, the provision of institutional support to the military widow’s association, and the need for the military widows association to extend its activities into the civil society space. This study was not without limitations. One of them was the challenges of access to the participants. This was expected given the nature of the topic. Also, I interviewed more widows of non-commissioned officers than commissioned officers. This was due to the officer-enlisted ratio present in the Nigerian military. The study would have benefitted from interviews with widows of senior officers, from the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and above for more comparison of experiences. The study’s focus on widows, rather than widowers of the Nigerian Army is another limitation of the study. This limitation, however, is a function of the overtly gendered nature of military institutions, and the exclusion of women from combat roles, including in the Nigerian military. Nonetheless, the findings and conclusions of this study are verifiable, generalizable, and reliable as they compare with the findings of other studies and correlate with the few studies on military families in Africa. Areas for further research identified by this study include focusing on the deployment and post-deployment challenges among Nigerian soldiers and military families involved in the Boko Haram conflict/and/or Internal Security Operations in Nigeria and studying the narratives of wives and families of disabled Nigerian soldiers in the Boko Haram conflict. Studies of this nature will open new vistas of knowledge on the experiences of serving Nigerian military families and the challenges they face in performing this crucial national duty and service.
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    The time of activism: an ethnographic study on the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) campaign and its practices of “working” time and representation in Cape Town
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-12) Wingfield, Matthew Michael; Robins, Steven Lance; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Sociology and Social Anthropology
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research examines an under-resourced activist group, the PHA Campaign, as it has attempted to ‘save the PHA’ from non-agricultural developments. The Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA), which has been an agricultural hub since the mid-1800s, has shrunk in size owing to a slew of spatial policy amendments. These amendments have left the ‘community’ of the PHA fragmented and divided, as some land owners look to sell their properties to developers, contributing to problems of land speculation. This research shows how the PHA Campaign, through its agroecological Vegkop farm, has sought to stop non-agricultural developments in the PHA, while further positioning itself as a stakeholder in the area. By advocating for the protection of the aquifer which lies beneath the area, the PHA Campaign has framed itself in opposition to the environmentally destructive practices of the hegemonic commercial farming model in the area. This research shows how the PHA Campaign has used the ‘Day Zero’ crisis to give impetus to its environmental activism, as it ‘works’ the possibilities that arise in contexts of crisis through the framework of “slow activism” (Robins, 2014). From three years of ethnographic research in the PHA, this research further shows how the PHA Campaign has positioned its “environmental imaginary” (Cock, 2020) within the broader environmental activist networks in South Africa in order to navigate questions of social justice and ‘representation’ which remain fundamental challenges to environmental activism more broadly.
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    Ageing, gender and class: differences in experiences and livelihood strategies of ageing populations in Harare, Zimbabwe
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-04) Gweru, Benjamin; Francis, Dennis; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Sociology and Social Anthropology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study explores ageing as experienced by ageing populations of Harare, Zimbabwe, while raising questions about what constitutes the very category ageing. The study also explores the class and gender dimensions of ageing on the livelihoods of older populations. The research focuses on older people from the age of sixty-five who are heads of households. The study is designed from the perspective of an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) in combination with Narrative Analysis (NA) situated within the theory of Social Constructionism, Intersectionality, and Theory of Practice by Bourdieu. The study draws on qualitative data collected from nine older people (both male and female) from three different localities of Harare: Epworth, Glen View, and Mt Pleasant. This research departs from common ways of viewing ageing people as passive and docile subjects, engaging with them, instead, as active agents who construct the social worlds they inhabit, albeit in material contexts which shape and constrain their agency. This means engaging with them as authorities about themselves, their everyday lives, their pleasures and anxieties and the relations and identifications they make. In adopting this research approach, my study generates new understandings about ways in which Zimbabwean ageing populations in the study construct and experience ageing, which debunked stereotypical associations of “ageing people” with intellectual and physical impairment. Indeed, one of the key findings which emerged from this research is that older people need recognition within research, not only as subjects to be used for knowledge gathering, but also as a populace with active personhoods. The findings of the study carry important implications for developing social policies to promote sound policies for ageing populations and the creation of opportunities to shape the lives of older people.