Title page for ETD etd-01122010-194450

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Van der Merwe, Jana
Email vandermerwe.jana@gmail.com
URN etd-01122010-194450
Document Title Being raised by a domestic worker: A postmodern study
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Mrs A Crafford Co-Supervisor
Dr L Eskell Blokland Supervisor
  • visual narrative analysis
  • domestic worker
  • klein
  • psychoanalysis
  • social unconscious
  • radio
  • thematic narrative analysis
  • autoethnography
  • Fairbairn
  • social ghosts
  • reflexivity
  • social constructionism
  • attachment theory
  • South Africa
  • narrative
  • postmodern
Date 2010-01-12
Availability unrestricted

This study focuses on exploring the relationship between domestic workers and the children they help to raise from the child’s perspective, using attachment theory (Bowlby, 1988) and psychoanalytic theory (referring specifically to Klein (1952) and Fairbairn (1952/2006) as some theoretical bases). Also, the concepts of the social unconscious (Weinberg, 2007) and social ghosts (Gergen, 2000) are used to provide a link to the relationship having social implications and functions in the South African context. All theories were used in an anti-essentialistic, reflexive and heuristic way, without reification or objectification of the various terms and concepts within the theories. Also, the paradigmatic point of departure for this research is postmodernism (Apignanesi, Sadar, Curry & Garrat, 2003), focusing on the contextual and socially constructed view of knowledge production. From this point of departure, the methodology is qualitative and the research design autoethnographic (Bochner, 1997; Ellis 1998; 2000; Muncey, 2005; Holman Jones, 2005). My own story is presented where I have used various data sources such as my own memories, a letter (Babbie & Mouton, 2008), and photographs which were analysed according to the principles of visual narrative analysis found in Riessman (2008) primarily. Further data was collected through the use of two radio talk shows, where participants were invited to share their stories with regard to being raised by a domestic worker. This data was analysed using thematic narrative analysis (Riessman, 2008), in which the narratives (kept as whole as possible) were analysed, each case in turn, using themes from the narratives themselves and deductive psychoanalytic themes. Some of the themes elicited were possession (where charges felt in possession of their domestic worker), absence (in relation to the child’s biological mother experienced both by domestic workers biological children and the domestic workers charges), loss (especially in relation to a caregiver), the male caregiver (a paternal figure to his charges), the politicisation of the relationship (the relationship between domestic worker and charge as product of a political system), reconciliation and action (a call for empathy and change), and an intertwining of cultures (where black and white, male and female, rich and poor exist inextricably linked with one another as a product of segregation). I have also maintained a consistent critical and reflexive stance throughout. In conclusion I have presented the contribution of this work to social science and society. Similarly, some limitations of this study are presented, as well as directions for further research.

Copyright © 2009, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Van der Merwe, J 2008, Being raised by a domestic worker: A postmodern study, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-01122010-194450/ >

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