Home country: South Africa
Year of enrolment: 2012
Graduation date: March 2015
Supervisor: Prof Rob Pattman
Dissertation title: Playing gender in childhood: How boys and girls construct and experience schooling and play in a township primary school near Durban
Abstract: Research on how children learn to behave in gendered ways has focused on a „top-down‟ process of socialisation which positions children as passive recipients of gender norms of the societies they inhabit. In contrast, this ethnographic study explores gender as constructed and experienced by children themselves with a specific focus on play as a means through which social identities are produced. This study focuses on children between the ages of six and ten and explores how they construct and experience being „boys‟ and being „girls‟ through play in a township primary school near Durban. This research is influenced by the emerging perspective in academic ways of thinking about childhood; identified by Prout and James (1997) as the „New Sociology of Childhood‟ (NSC). Departing from the traditional socialisation ways of thinking about children‟s social worlds from the perspectives of adults, the NSC views children as active agents in society whose social lives, behaviours and relationships are worthy of study in their own right. In this study, I engage with children‟s agency by adopting a critical child-centred methodological approach to explore symbolic meanings the young boys and girls in the study attach to play. In adopting this research approach, this study generates new understandings about ways in which South African boys and girls in the study construct and experience schooling and play. Findings raise various implications for ways of working with children, both in research and in education, in ways which engages with their own constructions of the stereotypes of masculinity and femininity through play.
Click here for full dissertation: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96650