Title page for ETD etd-09152010-193230

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Campos, Elizabeth Da Silva
URN etd-09152010-193230
Document Title Experiences of immigrants living in South Africa
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Dr L H Human Supervisor
  • humanities perspective
  • immigration
  • dominant cultural narratives
  • political perspective
  • geographical perspective
  • economic perspective
  • South African context
  • xenophobia
  • qualitative research
  • narratives psychology
  • legal immigrants
  • subjective experience
Date 2010-04-22
Availability restricted

Human beings have since the beginning of time been compelled to move and explore the world around them. The movement and wanderings of humans has grown over the decades as a result of advancements in technology. Presently, humans can easily travel long distances and cross international borders in search of new lands with novel prospects to settle. This international border crossings or immigration has become a phenomenon impacting in many aspects of modern society. Thus, immigration is a phenomenon that has engrossed considerable amounts of research from many diverse spheres of sciences. Political, geographical, economic and humanities are a few sciences that have explored the realms of immigration from different landscapes. As a result, vast oceans of information have been constructed pertaining to this subject. Psychology in particular has spent many years focussed on some fundamental aspects of immigration, such as immigrants’ maladjustment. Yet in psychology, little research has been conducted on the alternative subjective experiences of immigrants and even less so within the South African context. More recently, as media attention has peaked, South Africa has taken an interest on matters of immigration and immigrants. Consequently, several South African images and stereotypes on immigrants and their immigrant experiences have materialized, predominantly regarding legality, African immigrants and xenophobia. By focusing on these prevailing aspects of the immigrant experience, South Africa and psychology fail to construct the full landscape of this phenomenon. The prevailing stereotypical perspectives have resulted in a lack of alternative knowledge about immigrants living in South Africa and their experiences.

In light of the need for alternative voices, this narrative study focused on the alternative experiences of immigrants by exploring the narratives of legal, non-African foreigners living in the country. Through narrative inquiry, the question “how do legal immigrants experience living in South Africa?” cultivated a multifaceted illustration of the immigrant experience in South Africa. Narrative inquiry endorsed an understanding of the immigrant experience in its own terms rather than categorizing the experience according to predetermined formats and theories. This study consisted of two legal, non-African immigrants from separate continents. It focused on participants’ events surrounding their immigrant experience and their assessment of these experiences, all within their narrative construction. The results embody how participants structured and allocated meanings to their immigrant experience in South Africa through culture and history.

Further highlighted in this study are discussions on the immigration phenomenon from different perspectives. In addition, narrative psychology and its constructs are explored as a qualitative research method. By means of narrative psychology this study has been able to present new innovative insights into the unexplored parts of the South African immigrant world. These insights may create an understanding of immigrants’ experiences of living in the country. However, further research needs to be conducted to increase collective knowledge on the subjective experiences of immigrants. Perhaps more collective knowledge will allow South Africa to re-construct its relationship with the immigrant experience.

Copyright © 2008, 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:

Campos, ESD 2008, Experiences of immigrants living in South Africa, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-09152010-193230/ >


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