Title page for ETD etd-10172005-161058

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Poho, Isaac Setshego
URN etd-10172005-161058
Document Title Unemployment in an African village : a psychocultural perspective
Degree DPhil (Psychology)
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Prof J B Schoeman Committee Chair
  • unemployment social aspects South Africa
  • beliefs and doubts
  • unemployment psychological aspects South Africa
Date 2001-09-01
Availability unrestricted
The aim of this study was to examine psychocultural factors that are related to unemployment amongst the black residents of Bethanie, which is a semi-rural village in the North West Province. The specific objectives were:

  • to describe how values, belief systems and customs in the community where the study was done, are related to socio-economic development; this also involves changes in values, belief systems and customs due to the contact between the traditional African and Westem cultures;
  • to describe how socio-economic development is related to unemployment, and, accordingly, how values, belief systems and customs are related to unemployment;
  • to describe the role of the physical and. psychosocial environment with regard to socio¬economic development and unemployment.

A qualitative, ethnographic approach was used. This involved in-depth interviews with people with knowledge about the cultural, economic and social context in Bethanie, participant observation and psycholinguistic analyses.

Bethanie is characterised by economic stagnation in spite of there being good potential for economic growth. Existing economic activities do not provide sufficient employment opportunities for the villagers, and they depend on the areas surrounding the village for employment.

With regard to Hofstede's four value dimensions, it was found that individualism and collectivism are not opposite poles on a continuum, but are in a recursive relationship. Development that is exclusively based on either individualistic or collectivistic values is bound to fail. The value system in Bethanie is predominantly feminine by nature and this should form the basis for development; however, the actual implementation of development projects should be based on masculine values. Avoidance of uncertainty impedes new economic activities or expansion of current economic activities. In Bethanie there is a large power distance as well as inadequate linkages between the community and the power base that has decision-making power and control over resources that could be used for development.

A non-linear experience of time, together with using time to maintain continuity rather than to create prosperity, inhibits social and economic development. Non-linear temporality restrains the implementation of developmental projects with a long-term future-orientation, an~ to be successful projects should render visible, short-term outcomes.

Acculturation leads to diverse outcomes. Firstly, aspects of another culture can become assimilated with the indigenous culture, thereby creating new forms of cultural expression. Secondly, the new can be imposed on a community and replace existing customs. Thirdly, in parallelism both traditional and Western customs are followed. Socio-economic development can occur through all three these forms of change. However, irrespective of the way change occurs, during times of transition and uncertainty, and when the explanation for events is not evident, people may return to their culture. This could entail a positive redefinition of and identification with the values of the in-group, and efforts to regain control over one's own affairs.

Some aspects of a culture are more susceptibje to change than others, and in addition sectors of the community are on different levels of development and acculturation. This must be accommodated in developmental initiatives. Value polymorphism can also lead to conflict and fragmentation of society.

Structural unemployment, which results from a lack of job opportunities, must be distinguished from unemployment due to incomplete transition from an educational setting to an employment setting. Unemployment is also a social problem that requires immediate action to alleviate the poverty associated with unemployment. The type of unemployment determines the kinds of interventions that are necessary.

Development can occur at either a sectional level (involving SUbgroups) or a communal level (involving the whole community). Development may be either evolutionary, or it could be revolutionary, or it could be based on direct interventions.

systems and development must occur on a regional level and be linked with development in the larger context. If the larger context is accounted for, factors that influence and control local conditions, can be attended to. Developmental projects should have both an economic and social focus and be in synchrony with the community's level of development, local culture and leadership, facilitating and inhibiting factors in the physical environment, gender differentiation and the role of women in the community.

Other factors that promote development include political stability and a sense of security; permeable boundaries between the setting and the external environment; adequate links between a setting and the power base; a focus on the functional development of people so that they can be employable and take charge of economic activities; exposure to middle-class values; dedifferentiation and greater involvement of the community in decision-making.

© 2001 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:

Poho, IS 2001, Unemployment in an African village : a psychocultural perspective, DPhil thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-10172005-161058/ >


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