South African’s Evaluations of Presidential Performance

8 September, 2015 - 12:45 to 14:00
Jamy Felton
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

In 2009 the African National Congress (ANC) won their fourth successive term as South Africa’s ruling party. Consequentially, this meant that their party leader, Jacob Zuma, became South Africa’s fourth democratic president. Prior to his appointment, the South African news media was rife with criticism of Zuma over his recent rape charges, his views of women, his polygamous beliefs, and his involvement in the South African Arms Deal Saga, yet was often referred to as "the populist". Fast forward to Nelson Mandela's memorial service in December 2013, and suddenly the crowd is singin a different tune. Every time President Zuma took the stage, boos echoed through the stadium.

This introduces an interesting question about the South African people and the way they shape their evaluations of presidents. Is it based upon who the president is (their identity), how their government has performed, or what South Africans know or see? My thesis is a quantitative study using IDASA and Afrobarometer data to test three competing hypotheses (Identity, Performance Evaluation and Cognitive Awareness) in trying to explain how South Africans shape their evaluations of their president between 1997 and 2011. 

FaSRU researcher, Nicole Daniels, awarded a distinction

Congratulations go to Nicole Daniels, a postgraduate researcher at FaSRU. Her thesis “The Gendered Experiences of Women, Men and Couples who Plan, Have and Narrate Homebirths", completed recently at the Sociology Department, was awarded a Distinction from both external examiners. Nicole has written two working papers on aspects of her research. She will be continuing her research in this area by undertaking a doctorate  in the coming months.

Provision of Care in South Africa

A summarised version of an article on 'Care and Provision in South Africa: Kin, Market and State' authored by Elena Moore and Jeremy Seekings has appeared in Global Dialogue (see The paper demonstrates how the deracialisation of social grants and the change in kin support in the last few decades have pushed the South African welfare regime in a more social democratic direction, but the state has also retreated from its limited role in the provision of physical care, pushing people into reliance on kin, and, increasingly on the market. The full article appeared in Sozialer Welt ( Seekings, J. & Moore, E. (2014) ‘Kinship, market and state in the provision of care in South Africa. In: Soziale Welt Sonderband 20, Nomos: Baden-Baden. pp. 435--451). 

Gender and Homebirth: A relational, heterosexual couples perspective

25 August, 2015 - 12:45 to 14:00
Nicole Daniels
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

A recently completed masters dissertation in Sociology through the Family Studies Research Unit (FamSRu) at the CSSR produced findings on couples’ experiences of homebirth. Conceptualised in response to the scant attention given to men’s experiences and the almost non-existing literature on South African couples experiences. Unlike previous couple studies however, this study illustrates gender as a central aspect of homebirth narratives, the birth itself being key to the negotiation of femininity and masculinity. Adopting a relational gender framework - theoretically and methodologically - narrative constructions of homebirth highlight simultaneous operations of gender as both opportunity and constraint.

In their constructions of relational masculinities, homebirthing men distinguished between “being there”, understood in the fatherhoods literature as physical ‘presence’, with the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of ‘presence’. The findings revealed a “selfless masculinity” partially at odds with broader cultural expectations of men as the family breadwinner. On the other hand women’s focus on their bodies meant that their constructions of “self-reliant femininity”, whilst less at odds with broader cultural expectations of women as primary caregivers, significantly reconfigured women (and men’s) relationships to the birthing body. Rich data and careful analysis generated detailed insights into the research topic that produced alternative knowledge of women and men’s interrelated, everyday, relational gendered lives.

Change and continuity in the South African electorate: Initial results of the 2014 South African election study.

18 August, 2015 - 12:45 to 14:00
Professor Robert Mattes
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The South African National Election Study (SANES) consists of a series of post-election surveys of the electorate that have been carried out after each of the country’s post-apartheid elections.  It is also part of two separate cross national projects, the Comparative National Elections Project and the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems.  In this presentation, Robert Mattes will introduce people to the content of the SANES and then examine selected key overtime trends in voter attitudes and evaluations, including results from the most recent study carried out after the 2014 election.

Social Protection in Namibia

CSSR researchers Isaac Chinyoka, Nicoli Nattrass, Hangala Siachiwena and Jeremy Seekings, together with Research Associate Dirk Haarmann, attended the first Namibia Social Protection Conference in Windhoek in July. Speakers at the conference included Bishop Z Kameeta, the newly-appointed Minister of Poverty Eradication, and N. Iyambo, the Vice-President of Namibia. Bishop Kameeta gave a strong speech advocating the introduction of a 'basic income grant' in Namibia. Jeremy Seekings spoke on the politics of social protection in Africa. Isaac and Hangala stayed on in Windhoek after the conference to conduct preliminary fieldwork for their respective doctorates.

Policy, Politics and Poverty in South Africa - published

A new book by Jeremy Seekings and Nicoli Nattrass explains why poverty has persisted in South Africa since 1994. In Policy, Politics and Poverty in South Africa - published by Palgrave Macmillan in the UK.- the authors demonstrate who has and who has not remained poor, how public policies both mitigated and reproduced poverty, and how and why these policies were adopted. Their analyses of the South African welfare state, labour market policies and the growth path of the South African economy challenge conventional accounts that focus only on 'neoliberalism'. They argue, instead, that policies were, in important respects, social democratic. They show how social democratic policies both mitigate and reproduce poverty in contexts such as South Africa, reflecting the contradictory nature of social democracy in the global South.

Perceived Relative Deprivation among ‘coloured’ South Africans

21 July, 2015 - 12:45 to 14:00
Whitney Laster Pirtle, Ph.D. Department of Sociology University of California, Merced
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

So-called “coloureds” occupied an important, intermediate, and often buffering position during apartheid and continue to be a significant part of the South African political and economic landscape today. Considering  "coloureds’" intermediate and often precarious position, this research seeks to understand how "coloureds" perceive their position in contemporary South Africa. Specifically, in this paper I analyze two waves of the Southern African Barometer, and supplement with preliminary findings from qualitative interviews, to determine whether persons who self-identify as “coloured” perceive their group as deprived and gratified compared to “white” and “black” South Africans, respectively. I inform this analysis with relative deprivation theory, which makes predictions about individuals’ and groups’ perceptions of disadvantage (or gratification) relative to another individual or group. I extend the theory to apply to “coloureds” who were once simultaneously dominant and subordinate. I contend such an analysis allows us speculate/deduce key information about how South Africans perceive their positions and experiences within the racial hierarchy. Contrary to my expectations, I found that "coloureds" reported the highest levels of economic and treatment deprivation. I argue heightened perceptions of deprivation are a characteristic of the multiple social comparisons that must be made by “coloureds” today.



Elena presents at the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship (CISC) at the University of Essex

Elena Moore presented a paper on “Divorce and Emotion Work: The Egalitarians and Emphatic Interaction” at a seminar at the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship (CISC) at the University of Essex (for more details see In this seminar, Elena presented findings from a longitudinal qualitative study on post-divorce parenting. The paper focussed on how emotion work and emotions are experienced relationally amongst a subgroup of divorcees, the ‘egalitarians', and how they consciously manage and display a high level of dedication and attachment to the triadic relationship up to 10 years following the breakdown of a marriage. The paper is based on a findings chapter of her ongoing book project on Divorce, Families and Emotion Work.

Stanford Mahati to present a paper at Singapore migration conference

CSSR post-doctoral research fellow Stanford Mahati is presenting a paper on "Gendered Representations of Zimbabwean Independent Young Female Migrants Negotiating for Livelihood in a South African Border Town" at an international conference in Singapore on "Gendered Dimensions of Migration: Material and social outcomes of South-South migration". Stanford recently published a coauthored article in the journal Feminism and Psychology. He is currently working on two papers on his post-doctoral research on the experiences of fathering among transnational migrants from West Africa and ZImbabwe in Johannesburg. He presented the first of these papers - written with Elena Moore and Jeremy Seekings - at a FaSRU workshop in the CSSR earlier this year.

ASRU at the SA AIDS Conference

The recent Southern African AIDS Conference in Durban showcased the research findings of the Mzantsi Wakho study. Members of the research team presented in over a dozen sessions during the conference, including a plenary. ASRU's director, Rebecca Hodes, chaired the 'social sciences, economics and human rights' track at the conference. All submissions for symposia, roundtables, oral abstract sessions and posters were peer-reviewed. The full list of presentations is attached. The full conference programme is available here.


ASRU publishes article in AIDS

ASRU's director, Rebecca Hodes, has co-authored the first article on findings from the Mzantsi Wakho study, published in AIDS, the most highly-cited journal in HIV research. The Mzantsi Wakho study is a collaboration between the ASRU and Oxford University's Department of Social Policy and Intervention. The research team partners with UNICEF, Paediatric HIV Treatment for Africa, and the National Departments of Health, Basic Education and Social Development, to study how adolescents in the Eastern Cape use HIV treatment and sexual health services. The article presents findings from combined research methods, including longitudinal data, focus groups and direct observations in clinics and leisure spaces, to explore associations between HIV disclosure and adherence to antiretroviral treatment among teenagers in the Eastern Cape.

Discussing Inequality

On Friday 5th June, Jeremy Seekings will be discussing inequality with British Professors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, the authors of the international bestseller The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better. There is probably nowhere in the world where inequality is more important than in South Africa. The discussion, hosted by the Open Society Foundation, starts at 3 pm, at the District 6 Homecoming Centre in Buitenkant Street.

Without state nor status - exploring undocumented migrant children’s experiences in Cape Town

2 June, 2015 - 12:45 to 14:00
Lena Opfermann (Visiting PhD student in the CSSR, from the University of York in the UK)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

This presentation reflects on preliminary findings of a drama-based research project that explored the experiences and perceptions of undocumented migrant children living in Cape Town. Participants’ recurring references to discrimination, xenophobia, crime and loneliness show that their lack of a legal status specifically as well as their foreign nationality more generally affect their daily lives in practical and emotional terms. Participants’ enacted performances display notions of vulnerability and victimhood on the one hand and agency on the other hand. I interrogate how state actors, civil society and academic discourses instrumentalize these contrasting notions for their own purposes in an attempt to either enhance or restrict migrant children’s status in society. I conclude by arguing that neither the children’s actual nor attributed agency is sufficient to transform their status if they live in a state that does not recognize their presence. 


Lena is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York (UK), and currently a visiting student at the Centre for Social Science Research at UCT. Her PhD explores the experiences of unaccompanied and undocumented migrant children in Cape Town through a theatre-based methodology. Lena has a background in International Humanitarian Action (MA) from the University of Uppsala (Sweden) and in Cultural Sciences (BA) from the European University Viadrina (Germany). Prior to her PhD she worked for several years in the protection of refugees and migrants in South Africa, Ecuador and Angola. From 2008 to 2011 she led the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town’s advocacy programme with a particular focus on advocating for the rights of unaccompanied foreign children, disabled refugees and persons affected by xenophobic violence.