Research at UJ Sociology

The academic staff of the UJ Department of Sociology conduct research in a range of individual areas of expertise as well as in collaborative, interdisciplinary projects. These research projects range from smaller, individual studies to larger scale inter-institutional projects. Staff members regularly present papers at local as well as international conferences. In the recent past, members of the Department of Sociology have engaged with scholars from among other countries Armenia, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


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Student Communities (2011 - 2013)
Project leader: Prof Tina Uys
The full title of this project is Contested Youth Identities in Higher Education: A Comparison between Two Universities in India and South Africa. The project comprised a quantitative first phase in which undergraduate students was surveyed, a second phase involving a quantitative study of postgraduate studies, and a third, qualitative phase during which several elements of the exploratory findings are being probed further. The project benefits from the participation of eight researchers inside UJ, ie Prof Yaw Amoateng, Dr Tapiwa Chagonda, Ms Tessa Dooms, Dr Liela Groenewald, Prof Kammila Naidoo, Ms Letitia Smuts, Prof Anton Senekal, and Prof Cecilia van Zyl-Schalekamp. Collaborators outside UJ are Dr B Dworzanowski-Venter, Dr N Gundemeda, Ms E Kriel, Prof K Laxminarayan, and Prof S Patel. In addition to this, three doctoral students and four MA students in the UJ Department of Sociology benefit from participation in the project.

Memorandum of Understanding with University of Hyderabad (2011 - 2012)
Project leaders: Prof Kammila Naidoo, Prof Sujata Patel and Prof Tina Uys
The focus of academic cooperation between the departments of sociology at the University of Hyderabad and the University of Johannesburg is on joint and Comparative Research, Faculty and Student exchange and joint seminars or conferences. 

Citizenship and Social Capital (2007 - 2011)
Project leader: Prof Tina Uys
When actors in the developing world mobilise in order to overcome social exclusion, networks are often an unintended consequence. Social exclusion operates by means of persons prohibited from earning a decent livelihood, accessing services, accruing the benefits of formal and informal citizenship, often on the basis of their group identity. These exclusionary forces are accompanied by a loss of dignity. In identifying these factors, or dimensions of social exclusion, persons living in the global South often mobilise in order to attain greater inclusion. In so doing, organic networks are formed. These networks are fairly unique in that they constitute a form of grass-roots social capital that cannot be seen as a mechanism of ruling class power groups. Power operates along, across and within these networks at more localised levels. It is the nature, and content, of both power flows and networks that needs further exploration in seeking to understand ways of combating social exclusion. This ushers in a much needed return to Bourdieu's understanding of 'social capital' networks, while augmenting it with a more nuanced understanding of the excluded as agents. While social exclusion may be seen to be a universally acute challenge in the global South, this operate in tandem with localised exclusion dynamics and inclusion driven networks. A number of empirical projects are being conducted under the umbrella of these central issues. The fifteen co-workers on this project include faculty members of three South African and two Indian universities. A senior collaborator is Prof Sujata Patel from the University of Pune, India.
COSATU Workers’ Survey (2008 – 2009)
Project leader: Prof Sakhela Buhlungu
This is a collaborative project that involves researchers at the Universities of Johannesburg, Witwatersrand, KwaZulu-Natal, Fort Hare, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan and Western Cape. Funded by the South Africa – Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD), the project is the fourth run of a longitudinal study of COSATU members’ attitudes on political and socio-economic issues since 1994. The survey is always conducted around the time of national and provincial elections (the last three surveys were conducted in 1994, 1998 and 2004). The findings of the last three surveys have generated numerous publication outputs, including two books. The latest of these (Buhlungu, S. ed). 2006. Trade Unions and Democracy, HSRC) presents the most comprehensive coverage of the findings of the project to date.
Family Resilience and Well-being in South Africa (from 2008) 
Project leader: Prof Ria Smit
A hallmark of South African society for the better part of the last two decades, is the state of flux and consistent change taking place. This brings with it the challenge of having to deal with circumstances and life events that can be described as stressful. Significant stressors such as the illness and death of a close family member due to HIV and AIDS, family violence and a high crime rate are issues of the day, which result in children having to grow up in and adults having to function in a society characterised by profound chronic stressors. Due to the fact that families in South Africa have historically been confronted with stressful challenges such as colonialism, apartheid policies, political turmoil, large-scale urbanisation, and economic difficulty, many family theorists exert an alarmist view, according to which both the individual family as well as the family as institution are in a process of decline. Being confronted with the challenges of living in a society in transformation, the question is posed, from a deficit paradigm, whether families, now, more than ever, will be able to live up to these challenges. In this research project the attention shifts away from a deficit approach to embrace a salutogenic paradigm, insofar as attempting to shed light on positive attributes and strengths that promote the growth and development of families. This perspective may therefore act as an ‘antidote’ to social sciences’ historical emphasis on pathology and its containment. In using a salutogenic perspective, special reference is to the individual’s perception of family well-being and resilience and how it relates to his/her sense of psychological well-being. Notwithstanding the fact that the concepts ‘well-being’ and ‘resilience’ have gained popularity across academic, public and policy domains, the usage of these concepts have not provided significant amounts of analytical depth within the field of family studies in South Africa. This study seeks to yield contextual sensitivity to further nuance the said concepts by researching these within the context of the diverse nature of families in South Africa.

Informal Settlement and Urban Citizenship in South Africa (2009 - 2012) 
Project leader: Liela Groenewald
This study investigates how approaches to informal settlement in Johannesburg and Tshwane have developed since 1994. The objectives include characterising the approaches of senior city officials towards informality as reflected in documentary evidence as well as the legal responses to informality. The study further aims to identify differences in policy on informal settlements between the South African national state and the local state in these two cities, along with factors that have contributed to possible tensions. The study will provide empirical evidence of the position of informal settlements in social power relations and the policy processes through which they gain or lose bargaining power. In addition, the study aims to evaluate how different state approaches to informal settlements have recognised or impeded the ability of their residents to claim urban citizenship.This project is funded by the National Research Foundation.

Trade Unions and Party Politics: Labour Movements in Africa (2006 – 2009)
Project leaders: Prof Bjorn Beckman (Sweden), Prof Sakhela Buhlungu and Prof Lloyd Sachikony (Zimbabwe)
There is a strong tradition of close union-party relations globally, especially in Europe, where unions have played a leading role in the making and funding of labour parties. In much of Latin America and in Asia the links are also strong. In the African context, trade unions were often part of anti-colonial liberation movements where they were later incorporated and subordinated. Everywhere, there is a built-in conflict between being part of a government, actual or prospective, and to negotiate a collective agreement on behalf of union members. Union leaders are often accused of betrayal and of seeking privileged access to political power. Everywhere, unions engage in politics by intervening in the regulation of labour, in legislation, labour courts, etc. They also engage politically in order to influence economic and social policies. What has happened to their engagements with political parties? 
This project kicked off with an international conference in Johannesburg, a few days before the ISA Durban Congress. The papers presented at that conference have now been revised and are being prepared for a book manuscript. The book reviews seven African cases, from Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria in the west to Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Namibia in the east and south, drawing on a network of leading labour scholars and unionists based in the continent.
Postgraduate student research in the UJ Department of Sociology:
Doctoral theses and MA dissertations

Apart from the larger projects mentioned above, staff members of the department are engaged in numerous small-scale research projects, disseminated through various local and international avenues. For details of these outputs, see individual staff pages.

Projects are only listed below in cases where a degree has been awarded or the proposal has been accepted and the student is actively engaged in their project. Names of supervisors are given in brackets.To access electronic versions of theses and dissertations in the UJ library, click here.

Doctoral theses: Doctoral degrees awarded since 2000
Neville Bews, ‘An Investigation into the Facilitators of the Trustworthiness of Managers’ (Uys & Rossouw). 
Tapiwa Chagonda, ‘The Response of the Working Class in Harare to the Economic Crisis, 1997-2007’ (Alexander).
Bronwyn Dworzanowski, ‘A Sociological Study of AIDS Care as Emotional Labour’ (Uys, Smit and Erlank).
Riaan Els, ‘In Search of a Community Based Response to Child Maltreatment: the Design and Development of a System Model for Local Protection Management’ (Uys). 
Bernard Nthambeleni, ‘The Co-ordination of Civil Society in Post-apartheid South Africa, with Special Reference to the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) and the National Association of Residents and Civic Organisation (NARCO)’ (Alexander).
Ria Smit, ‘Die Veranderende Rol van die Man in die Dubbelinkomstegesin’ (The Changing Role of the Man in the Dual-Income Family) (Steyn).

Doctoral research in progress (proposals accepted by Higher Degrees Committees)
Karen Appelbaum, ‘Resituating Sociology Within the Social Sciences: The Case of an Integrated Sociology of Attachment' (Uys).
Friedel Bakman, 'Breaking the Culture of Silence: A Sociological View of Whistleblowing in a Financial Organisation' (Uys and Senekal).

Elli Binikos
Claire Ceruti, ‘The Formation of new Collective Identities Amongst Precarious Workers During the 2006 Strikes in South Africa’ (Alexander and Kenny).

Nazreen Dasoo, ‘An Ethnomethodological Study of Values in Education’ (Henning and Uys).
Lauren Graham,
Liela Groenewald, 'Informality and Its Implications for Urban Citizenship: The Case of Informal Settlements in Johannesburg and Tshwane' (Bekker and Uys).
Mondli Hlatswayo
Christine Ikiara-Zamberia, ‘Sustainable Cities, Social Conflict and Solid Waste: Johannesburg and Nairobi Compared’ (Alexander and Uys).
Zahraa MacDonald, ‘Notions of Citizenship: A Sociological Exposition of Islamic Education in Johannesburg’ (Uys and Alatas).

Prudence Makhura, ‘Patrice Motsepe: A Sociological Biography’ (Alexander and Stanley).
Susan Marx, ‘’n Sosiologiese Studie van die Media se rol in Alarmmaking’ (Uys, Rossouw and van der Merwe).
Nadira Omarjee, ‘A Critical Analysis of Constructions of Masculinity and Femininity in Newspaper Reports on HIV and AIDS’ (Du Toit and Smit).
Sandra Roberts
Pragna Rugunanan
Hilma Shindondola, ‘Xenophobia in South Africa and Beyond’ (Uys and Alexander).

MA dissertations
 
MA degrees awarded in 2011
Cheri-Lee Andrade (Smit and Seedat)
Andrena Mohlathe (Smit)

MA degrees awarded in 2009 
Letitia Smuts, ‘Lesbian Identities in Johannesburg’ (Alexander and Khunou).
Raymond Robinson, ‘Towards a Sociological Understanding of the Relationship Between job Satisfaction and Whistleblowing’ (Smit and Uys).

MA degrees awarded in 2007 
Lauren Basson, ‘Punk Identities in Post-Apartheid South Africa’ (Alexander and Groenewald).  
Rejoice Shumba, ‘Social Identities in the National Youth Service of Zimbabwe’ (Alexander and Mushonga).
 
MA degrees awarded in 2006
Elli Binikos, ‘A Sociological Case Study of the Relationship Between Organisational Trust and Whistleblowing in the Workplace’ (Uys and Bews).
Nina Lewin, ‘A Sociological Understanding of Jewish Women’s Psalms Reading Groups’ (Uys and Hellig).
Molefe Maleka, ‘An Employee Wellness Programme and the HIV/AIDS-related Needs of the Lowest Strata Employees: Nissan, Rosslyn’ (Senekal and Dworzanowski).
Martha Mosoahle, ‘Managing Group Relations Among Elite Netball Players’ (Uys and Burnett).
Rudzani Mudau, ‘Sport and the Development of New Mining Communities in the Witbank District’ (Alexander and Ceruti).
Sandra Roberts, ‘Resisting Stigma: Living Positively With HIV/AIDS in South Africa’ (Uys and Ichharam). 
 
MA degrees awarded in 2005
Tebogo Gumede, ‘Why do Women opt for Backstreet Abortions? A Sociological Study’ (Smit and Uys).
Zahraa McDonald, ‘Place, Meaning and Shared Experience: The Construction of the Tabligh Jamaa Identity in Johannesburg’ (Alexander and van Rensburg).
Maritha Marneweck, ‘Internet Chat Rooms: New Meeting Places for Real Identities’ (Ichharam, Bolsmann and Alexander).
Masenyama, Kurai, ‘The Influence of Local Content Regulations on ‘National Identity’ Creation: the Case of the South African Broadcasting Corporation Television’ (Uys and Dawson).
Kanyiso Walaza, ‘Exploring Mineworkers’ Explanations of Misfortune’ (Senekal and Smit). 
 
MA degrees awarded in 2004 
Bronwyn Dworzanowski, ‘Sociology, Dying and Aids: Learning from Hospice Care in South Africa’ (Uys and Alexander).
Liela Groenewald, ‘Experiencing Racism’ (Uys and Lochner).
Prudence Makhura, ‘A "Good Death"? ‘Rustenberg Miners Dying from HIV/Aids’ (Alexander).
Jantjie Xaba, ‘Employee Assistance Programmes and Retrenchment: A Case Study of the South African Steel Industry’ (Alexander). 

MA degrees awarded in 2003 
Friedel Bakman, ‘The Management of Whistleblowing in a Financial Institution’ (Uys & Rossouw).
Marcelle Dawson, ‘Identity and Context: Friendship and Friction in a South African High School’ (Alexander and Uys).
Cilla Maud, ‘Social Assessment of the Amangwane Community Campsite Project’ (Uys and Smit).
Matodzi Ralushai, ‘Experiences of Women Working on the Mines: A Case Study from Rustenburg Platinum Mines’ (Alexander and Bolsmann).
Lungelo Sikakane, ‘Subcontracting in Gold Mining: Western Deep Level Mine, Carletonville.’ (Alexander).
 
MA degrees awarded in 2002
Meera Ichharam, ‘South Africa's Bargaining Councils and their Role in Dispute Resolution’ (Alexander).
Hilma Shindondola, ‘Xenophobia in South Africa: The Views, Opinions and Experiences of International Students at the Rand Afrikaans University’ (Alexander and Uys). 
Maria Swart, ‘The Impact of Landmines on Family Life: A Case Study of a Province in Angola’ (Senekal and Smit).
 
MA degrees awarded in 2001
Sylvia Moila, ‘Household Survival Strategies of Female Headed Families in Rural Areas’ (Uys and Smit).













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