Title page for ETD etd-07212006-132054

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Schoeman, Martie
URN etd-07212006-132054
Document Title African women in a western workplace : an ethnographic case study
Degree MA (Anthropology)
Department Anthropology and Archaeology
Advisor Name Title
Prof H Els Committee Chair
  • women black employment South Africa
  • work social aspects case studies
  • women employees
Date 2001-04-01
Availability unrestricted
This study contributes to the limited academic knowledge (particularly anthropological knowledge) available on the working behaviour of black women workers. The study focuses on how black women workers perceive and experience certain western work values within a western workplace. A problem that constantly arises in South African industry is the correlation between work values and working behaviour. Hence, the study focuses on the African-oriented value judgements and life- and world-views of black women workers manifested in a South African factory and the perceptions of these women regarding selected western work values. The working behaviour of the black women workers, as employed at Automotive Mouldings cc (AMM) and their culturally determined value judgements and life¬and world-views concerning certain requirements and elements within the western labour system in general, and specifically at AMM, are examined.

The empirical study provides an ethnographic description of the perceptions of black women workers at AMM of western work values and their working behaviour in the workplace. The culturally determined attitudes of these black women towards "work" are discussed. These selected western work values include career awareness, individualism, thoroughness and alertness, time concepts, discipline, communication, motivation to achieve, diligence, responsibility and accountability as well as work status. These western-oriented characteristics (criteria), however, are not necessarily present in the work value systems of black women workers. This creates conflict and reduces productivity within the workplace, as the working behaviour of the black women workers, in many instances, contrasts with western-oriented organisational values in general. Thus, it is difficult to predict the working behaviour of black women workers or to judge it from within western employers' own cultural frameworks. In order to prevent or reduce conflict in the workplace, and to enhance productivity, it is essential that employers are aware of the perceptions of western work values and working behaviour of traditional Africans in general, but specifically the working behaviour of black women workers.

© 2000, 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:

Schoeman, M 2000, African women in a western workplace : an ethnographic case study, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-07212006-132054/ >


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