The discursive construction of identity in young offenders' narratives in Swaziland

Dlamini-Akintola, Virginia Thontea (2019-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The study of ‘identity’ straddles different fields such as psychology, sociology and linguistics. The particular approach taken to the study of identity is contingent upon the field, with some fields viewing identity as an essential, fixed phenomenon while others view identity as a discursive construction that occurs in discourse (Benwell and Stokoe 2006; Bamberg, De Fina and Schiffrin 2011). This study set out to investigate the discursive construction of young offenders’ identity in a youth correctional facility in Swaziland. This facility introduced formal schooling in 2008. This study thus investigated how the young offenders who are attending the school located at the correctional facility discursively construct their own identities. The study also investigated how the semiotic landscape (Jaworksi & Thurlow 2010) that is all meaning-making resources within the public landscape of the correctional facility and the school, contributes to constructing the young offenders’ identity. The study made use of arts-based methodological approaches. This included encouraging the participants to visually depict the course of their lives, their futures and the semiotic landscape which surrounds them. Since the study was situated in a ‘total institution’ (Goffman 1961), the nature of the place contributed to shaping the identities of the young offenders. This occurred through ‘mortification processes’ which enable the inmates to adapt to the life of ‘regimentation’ in the institution (Goffman 1961). This study shows that since identity is discursively constructed in discourse, the use of multimodal personal narratives combined with arts-based approaches to research are extremely useful methods with which to investigate identity construction from participants in a context that is traumatic. In addition, long-term-ethnographic studies provides rich insight into changes into a semiotic landscape and the reasons for such changes. Another major contribution of the study is the questions it raises about ethical engagement with vulnerable participants. It presents the challenges this study encountered. Ultimately, I argue that the key to moving towards an ethical engagement is to do research with, rather than on vulnerable participants.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die studie van identiteit strek oor verskillende vakgebiede soos sielkunde, sosiologie en taalwetenskap. Die spesieke benadering wat geneem word ten op sigte van die studie van identiteit hang af van die vakgebied, met sommige wat identiteit beskou as ’n essensiele, vaste fenomeneem terwyl ander identiteit as ’n konstruksie beskou wat deur diskoers plaasvind (Benwell and Stokoe 2006; Bamberg, De Fina and Schiffrin 2011). Die studie het die diskursiewe identiteitskonstruksie van jong oortreders in ’n korrektiewe fasiliteit vir jong oortreders in Swaziland ondersoek. Die spesifieke fasiliteit het in 2008 formele opvoeding ingestel. Die studie het dus ondersoek hoe die jong oortreders wat die skool bywoon by die korrektiewe fasiliteit, deur diskoers hul eie identiteite konstrueer. Die studie het ook ondersoek hoe die semiotiese landskap (Jaworksi & Thurlow 2010), dit is alle betekenis-skeppende bronne, wat in die publieke landskap van die korrektiewe fasiliteit is, bydra tot die konstruksie van jong oortreders se identiteit. Die studie het gebruik gemaak van kuns-gebaseerde metodologie. Dit het metodes ingesluit wat die deelnemers aanmoedig om hul lewensverloop, hul toekoms en die semiotiese landskap wat hulle omring visueel uit te beeld. Aangsien die studie binne ’n “totale instituut” (Goffman 1961), plaasgevind het, het die kenmerke van die plek bygedra tot identiteitskonstruksie. Dit het gebeur deur mortifikasie prossesse wat gevangenes in staat stel om aan te pas in die geregimenteerde lewe van die instituut (Goffman 1961). Die studie toon aan dat aangesien identiteit in diskoers gekonstrueer word, die gebruik van multimodale persoonlike narratiewe gekombineer met kuns-gebaseerde benaderinge tot navorsing besonder nuttige metodes is waarmee identiteitskonstruksie in traumatise kontekste ondersoek kan word. Die studie toon ook aan dat langtermyn etnografiese studie ryk insae bied in veranderinge in die semiotiese landskap en hoekom daardie veranderinge aangebring is. Nog ’n groot bydra van die studie is die vrae wat dit stel oor etiese betrokkenheid by weerlose deelnemers. Die studie wys die uitdagings uit wat voorgekom het in die studie. Uiteindelik, stel ek dit dat die sleutel tot etiese betrokkenheid is om navorsing met weerlose deelnemers te doen, liewer as oor hulle.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107240
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