Reaching for partnership: An intersectional study of occupational closure among women attorneys in South Africa

Meyer, Tamlynne (2021-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research contributes to an understanding of the ways in which women attorneys experience social closure in the South African legal profession. The relevance for further research and debate is illustrated through the observed discrepancy between women’s representation during legal education and training, and their representation in the profession itself, especially at the partnership level. This study interrogates and uncovers how and why women continue to be marginalised, despite the removal of formal barriers and the enactment of legislation and policies to spearhead transformation, both in the country and profession. Through this, the thesis situates South Africa within the broader global debates on the sociology of professions which lacks a Southern African perspective. The investigation is approached from a mixed-method research design and a comprehensive and complex sociological framing, underpinned by feminist, Bourdieusan and organisational culture theoretical constructs. This provides a novel, but also an appropriate approach to the study, given the literature trends and the particular social, cultural and historical context of South Africa. The thesis presents the informal, invisible and hidden ways that produce and reproduce social closure in a specific context. These are often presented in nuanced, complex, contradictory, and ambiguous ways, which intersect with gender, race and class positions. The key elements I use to analyse social closure include intersectionality, voice, field (space), habitus, culture, and capital. I argue that all of these converge and are central to women’s experiences and material realities.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsing dra by tot begrip van die maniere waarop vroueprokureurs sosiale sluiting in die Suid-Afrikaanse regsberoep ervaar. Die spesifieke relevansie vir verdere navorsing en debat word geïllustreer deur die verskil wat waargeneem is tussen mans en vroueverteenwoordiging tydens regsopvoeding en opleiding, en hul verteenwoordiging in die beroep self, veral op vennootskapsvlak. Hierdie studie ondervra en ontbloot die hoe en waarom vroue steeds gemarginaliseer word ten spyte van die verwydering van formele hindernisse en die daarstelling van wetgewing en beleide om transformasie in beide die land en beroep te bewerkstellig. Hierdeur poog die ondersoek om Suid-Afrika binne die breër wêreldwye debatte oor die sosiologie van beroepe wat 'n Suid-Afrikaanse perspektief ontbreek te stel. Die tesis word benader uit 'n gemengdemetode-navorsingsontwerp en 'n omvattende en komplekse sosiologiese raamwerk wat deur feministiese, Bourdieusan en organisatoriese kultuurteoretiese konstrukte ondersteun word. Dit bied 'n nuwe, maar ook 'n toepaslike benadering tot die studie, gegewe die literatuurtendense en die spesifieke sosiale, kulturele en historiese konteks van Suid-Afrika. In hierdie verhandeling bied ek die informele, onsigbare en verskuilde maniere aan wat sosiale sluiting veroorsaak en versterk. Hierdie situasies manifesteer dikwels in genuanseerde, komplekse, teenstrydige en dubbelsinnige maniere wat strek oor geslag, ras en klasposisies. Die belangrikste elemente wat ek gebruik om sosiale sluiting te analiseer, sluit in interseksionaliteit, stem, veld (ruimte), habitus, kultuur en kapitaal. My argument is dat al hierdie elemente saamsmelt en sentraal is tot vroue se ervarings en materiële realiteite.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/123963
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