Gender and difference : a comparative case study of grade nine students from five schools in the greater Pietermaritzburg area.
South African society is characterised by race, class and gender inequality. Social inequality is at the root of individual social identity formation affecting how individuals feel, think and relate to others. This study investigates the perceptions of school-going children, focusing particularly on perceived differences between boys and girls with respect to the activities, games and sport they prefer to play and who prefer to play with. It also looks at gendered expectations - of themselves, of children of the opposite sex as well as those of same sex both with respect to play and to performance in certain school subjects. This study draws on some of the data collected in the CRG Research Programme. It is based on a sample of 416 grade nine pupils, aged 15 years and older. Respondents attend at rural, farm, urban historically black, urban historically white and urban private schools, within a forty-five kilometres radius of the city of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. This study finds that while social identity theory may be useful as a micro and middle level theory, it is not able to account adequately at the macro level. Also, and in respect to gender as an identifier, this study suggests that while it is significant, it is not always so. Other social factors, particularly race, class and locality does override or take precedence in shaping identity and expected life chances.