Gender, sexuality and schooling: An ethnography of young people in a secondary school in Kaduna State, Nigeria

Zaggi, Hilary (2022-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2022.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Studies in Nigeria have presented schools as complex spaces that provide little or no support for young people with regards to gender and sexuality. The view that young people are passive actors in developing their social world seeks to re-affirm the domination of adult constructed cultural values in schools. These cultural values seek to construct and regulate the behaviours of young people in ways that conform to heteronormative ideas of masculinities and femininities, thereby, denying young people agency in the construction of their social identities. This ethnographic study focuses on young people in a secondary school between the ages of 13-20 years. It explores the ways in which young people understand and construct their gender and sexuality through social interactions with others and how they navigate, resist, and respond to regulations within the school environment. The study is guided by the ideas of social constructivism. It argues that knowledge is created by social interactions among individuals in society. Influenced by the ideas of poststructural feminism, the study engaged with gender and sexuality as fluid concepts that are socially constructed, thereby debunking the essentialist idea that gender is biologically determined. The study also draws on the ideas of the New Sociology of Childhood (NSC). It engages with young people as experts in their reality, in this way, positions young people as active participants in the research process through which knowledge is collectively produced through everyday interaction in the school. The study adopts a child-centred approach to understand young people's constructions of stereotypical forms of gender and sexual identities promoted by heteronormative discourses within the school space. Findings from the study suggest new ways of engaging with young people in research of this nature in Nigerian schools. It further brings to fore the nuances around adults' construction of young people's social identities in ways that do not support the general well-being of young people in Nigerian schools.

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