Theatre for social capital : a case study at Mangaliso child and youth care centre.
Naguran, Lerisa Ansuya.
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This study was conducted at Mangaliso2 Child and Youth Care (CYCC) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, in response to concerns expressed by child residents of the high prevalence of aggressive behaviour in the CYCC. This study, through an applied theatre programme that adopts a combination of sociodrama and psychodrama techniques, attempts to address the prevalence of aggression at Mangaliso CYCC by generating social capital (Putnam, 1995). Weakened family social capital has been shown to give rise to aggressive behaviour (Imtiaz et al., 2010:103). Given that the participants of this study have been removed from their families due to physical and/or sexual abuse, the central premise of this study is that the high prevalence of aggression displayed by the residents of Mangaliso is resultant of weakened family social capital. Through weakened family social capital and the exposure to abuse in the home, the “culture of violence” (Galtung, 1990:291) that was deeply entrenched by the apartheid regime is transmitted intergenerationally. This study, however, recognises that strong peer social capital has the potential to compensate for weakened family social capital, thereby minimising the negative effects of it (Gatti & Tremblay, 2007). The applied theatre programme that forms the basis of this research therefore attempts to reduce the prevalence of aggression at Mangaliso CYCC by increasing peer social capital. This applied theatre programme is specifically designed for the generation of social capital. The programme makes use of theatre of the oppressed (Boal, 1979), theatre of the oppressor (O’Toole 1998; Weinblatt & Harrison, 2011 and Chinyowa, 2014) and Geese Theatre Company (Baim, Brookes & Mountford, 2002; Watson, 2009) techniques with the intention of increasing peer social capital at Mangaliso by specifically engaging the four essential elements of social capital as defined by Robert Putnam (1993): trust, reciprocity, social norms and social networks. The findings of this study show that, although the programme was certainly effective in the generation of peer social capital, the effectiveness of the programme was greatly influenced by the challenges that the institutional environment posed. These challenges include insufficient adult supervision due to short staffing, and the negotiation of hierarchical peer structures created to give some child residents power over others. This study finds that the institutional environment was often at odds with the participants’ personal choices to employ less aggressive strategies for conflict resolution. Even so, the findings of this study show that the increase in peer social capital that was generated through participation in the theatre programme resulted in less frequent incidents of aggression. An increase in peer social capital at Mangaliso CYCC created an environment that offered more safety, social support and fewer circumstantial reasons to behave aggressively.