African boys and gangs : construction of masculinities within gang cultures in a primary school in Inanda, Durban.
Maphanga, Innocent Dumisani.
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This thesis explores the ways in which a group of boys who belong to gangs enact their masculinity. The focus is on African boys' construction of their masculinities within gang cultures at a primary school in Inanda, Durban. The school is an exclusively African co-educational school and predominantly African teaching staff. Data collection involved qualitative methods that primarily include observation and unstructured interviews. These research tools were used to investigate the interrelatedness between violence, gangs, and masculinities. This study demonstrates that young boys in gangs enact violent masculinities which are bound up with issues of race/ethnicity, gender, class, and context in the making of young gang cultures. The performance of violent gang masculinity produced the exaggerated quality of masculine protest, in which violence is employed as a compensation for perceived weakness. This study reveals that gang of boys are enacting masculinity that is oppositional to school's authority by contravening school rules and regulations in multiple ways. This research has indicated that modes of masculinities are shaped, constrained or enabled by gang cultures. Gang boys acted out their protest masculinity in multiple ways. They are anti-school authority, anti-social and undisciplined. The study also demonstrates that there are many socio-economic and political factors that impact negatively on the school such as unemployment, poverty, and violent gang crime. The social, economic and political contexts are therefore crucially important in understanding a multiplicity of masculine identities amongst gang boys at the school under study. Schooling is an important arena where masculinities are enacted in various forms including violent (gang) masculinities. The overall conclusion stemming from the research project is that attempts to reduce violent gang masculinities in the school need to include a gender strategy that tackles gender inequality. In South Africa this could form part of the Life Skills curriculum. Much greater attention needs to be given, in the life skills curriculum and through the ethos of the school as a whole, to promote gender equality and in particular models of masculine identity not predicated on force and violence.