Expectations, obligations and goals: an ethnographic study of two HIV/AIDS support groups south of Durban, South Africa.
A focus on care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world has become a key discussion in the general HIV/AIDS discourse. This thesis provides an in-depth analysis of two HIV/AIDS support groups operating in areas south of Durban, South Africa. In particular, the thesis presents the readers with a description of the 1) purpose of HIV/AIDS support groups, 2) main participants involved in HIV/AIDS support groups, and 3) an overview of how the two HIV/AIDS support groups under study operate. The grounded theory approach of this study led to the emergence of two themes crucial to the understanding of the HIV/AIDS support groups under study, the existence of widespread conflict, and a system of "negotiated" reciprocity within each support group. The thesis uses the framework of Victor Turner's social drama, and the anthropological theories of reciprocity, in order to analyze these concepts. This thesis reveals that each support group operates within an environment, in which a discrepancy of expectations, obligations, and goals amongst the support group participants exists. Additionally, the support group members and the sponsoring organization of both support groups have varying perceptions of the support group, both in its ideal and actual form. Finally, the thesis reveals the way in which each support group oscillates between a state of stability and conflict, and how conflict and negotiation, in turn, become inherent within, and synonymous with, everyday organisation and operation of the support groups.