Navigating the ‘new South Africa’: an ethnographic study of the ‘born free’ generation in Mpumalanga province

Haeri Mazanderani, Fawzia (2018) Navigating the ‘new South Africa’: an ethnographic study of the ‘born free’ generation in Mpumalanga province. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis explores the aspirations of black South Africans who were born after the end of apartheid. These young people are controversially referred to as the ‘born free’ generation. They were born into a democracy that officially offers them equal opportunities but continues to grapple with a legacy of racial discrimination, spatial segregation and unequal educational provision. Despite the majority of ‘born frees’ experiencing poor educational attainment and high levels of unemployment, existing research indicates that those in this category hold ambitious future aspirations, although these rarely come to fruition. The focus of my work is the aspirations of rural youth and draws upon ten months of ethnographic data collected within a township in Mpumalanga province. It analyses selected curriculum content, observations, focus groups and interviews with two groups of young people – those in their last year of schooling and those two years out of school. Through ethnographic observations in one secondary school in particular, I elucidate how students’ schooling environments relay particular discourses concerning what constitutes a ‘good education’ and what it means to aspire towards a ‘good life.’ Integrating insights from feminist, poststructural and postcolonial theories, I consider how the discourses of the ‘new South Africa’ are transmitted within the schooling environments, homes and wider social and political arenas which these young people occupy, thereby creating and structuring ways for them to speak and think about their futures.

My analysis engages with the shifting attachments that shape how South Africans living in a rural area construct their narratives of the future and demonstrates how these young people’s performances of identity are both spatially constructed and affectively negotiated. By considering the silences and contradictions in their imaginaries, this thesis shows how the discourses through which these imaginaries are constructed create boundaries around ways of being and becoming that are deemed valuable and those that are not. In problematising an understanding of aspiration as an individual disposition, my research demonstrates that the hopes of young, black South Africans are rooted in social and spatial inequalities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC0065 Social aspects of education > LC0068 Demographic aspects of education
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2018 11:51
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2018 11:51

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