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Publication Detail
Adult Education, Gender and Violence in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Nussey C
  • Date awarded:
  • Supervisors:
    Parkes J,Unterhalter E,Gideon J
  • Awarding institution:
    UCL (University College London)
  • Language:
This doctoral study is concerned with questions of what education is, the role it plays in women’s lives, and why it might be considered valuable. It asks whether and how adult education, gender and violence are inter-connected, through in-depth qualitative research in a single community in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The original contribution of this thesis is to show that the connections are profound. It argues that multidimensional forms of violence and intersecting inequalities are both empirical phenomena that shape everyday lives but further offer theories of disadvantage that help understand the social processes of being an ‘adult-learner’. The study draws on ethnographic strategies to locate these questions in the discursive terrain of a South African mass adult education campaign, delivered at the community level but designed and managed nationally. It takes a post-structural approach to the meanings made through the campaign around ‘education’, ‘gender’ and ‘violence’, supported by reflexive analysis. At the heart of the study and the analysis of this thesis are thirty life-history interviews undertaken with female adult-learners participating in the campaign. The thesis contributes an innovative form of inter-linguistic discourse analysis, working with signifiers across translated English and original isiZulu data. The thesis considers ways in which ‘being educated’ was understood as leading to ‘good work’, ‘speaking for –self’, and recognition through ‘official’ knowledge represented by ‘schooled’ literacies, as well as access to material goods, status, and forms of mobility. It explores how ‘being uneducated’ was conversely constructed as individualised ‘failure’, in which the intersections of gendered, raced and classed structural violence were commonly misrecognised, and enacted as symbolic violence through blame and internalised ‘stress’. The study finds that the adult education space offered valuable ways to mediate forms of physical, emotional and symbolic violence, but did not challenge the structural violence that underpinned them.
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