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Masters Degrees (Society and Social Change)

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    Gendered behaviour on social media: probing the role of Instagram in perpetuating the curvaceous body ideal.
    (2018) Mthethwa, Yolanda Lungile.; Naidu, Uma Maheshvari.
    The ambiguous messages conveyed by society through the media, particularly social media, have masked the extent to which such prescriptions and ideals harm and deter women from being their true selves. Internalisation of the media body ideal is an adoption of a socially defined body ideal as a personal standard (Knauss & Paxton, 2008). This qualitative study attempts to probe the role of Instagram in perpetuating the curvaceous body ideal. The study is built upon a social constructionism framework and black feminism theory. Deep and thick narratives were collected from young black women at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, ranging between the ages of 18 to 30 years and who are Instagram users. Findings reveal that participants are aware of the curvaceous body trend and to some extent are affected by the trend. Results also showed that some of the participants had a sense of pride in who they are and their uniqueness and did not feel the pressure to conform to the bodies seen on Instagram. The study revealed that the majority of the participants felt that peers of the same gender put the most pressure on women to look a certain way or to have body image concerns, either through social media or in person.
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    Exploring the role that is played by race and ethnicity when it comes to influencing voting behaviour in South Africa: a study conducted among students at UKZN.
    (2019) Nkosi, Xolani Njabulo.; Maart, Rozena Eliza.
    Race as a social construct still plays a major role when it comes to being a main factor motivating voters to vote in South Africa. Ethnicity does not fall far behind race as a motivating factor on voters. Ethnicity is a prevalent factor among Black voters whereas the extent to which race is a motivating factor on Black voters is small. Literature from various scholars such as Maart, Modiri, Cashmore suggest that race is a social construct that impacts ones day to day basis due to it being a system put in place to categorize people. General observations such as the history of Apartheid and how during the Apartheid era the majority (Black people) was not allowed to vote tells us that to a great extent, race determined political power in South Africa during the Apartheid era. A quantitative approach is adopted by this research study with the aim of answering the objectives of the study. The research study seeks to explore the role that is played by race as well as ethnicity in influencing voting behaviour in South Africa. One way in which race is deemed a major influence is through the living conditions under which one is raised in. Race plays a role in determining where one is going to be brought up as it is a system put in place for categorization. Such system influence voters. Social characteristics such as ethnicity also plays a major role in determining the voting behaviour of voters. Data collection was done through close –ended self-administered questionnaires. Students from UKZN were used as research study participants and they played a major role in affirming and denying the role played by race and ethnicity in voting behaviour. This dissertation provides a descriptive analysis of the extent to which race and ethnicity are major factors influencing voting behaviour in South Africa. The data collected through questionnaires helps in ensuring that the objectives of this research study are answered. By understanding the role that is played by race and ethnicity in influencing voting behaviour in SA, one gets a chance to have a clear understanding of how events are likely to unfold in the 2019 upcoming elections. Are factors such as race and ethnicity bound to determine the voting behaviour of voters in the 2019 South African national elections? A research study such as this one helps in unpacking such questions.
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    From need to greed through creed : the transformation of Al Qaeda terrorism in the Islamic Maghreb and the Sahel.
    (2015) Chelin, Richard Phillipe.; Mngomezulu, Bhekithemba Richard.
    AQIM appeared on the Algerian landscape in 2007 after the merger between Al Qaeda and the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) with the objective of expanding its existing network in North Africa and the Sahel region. Within a relatively short period, AQIM adopted Al Qaeda tactics of suicide bombings targeting foreign institutions. It rapidly grew into one of the most dangerous terrorist groups operating in North Africa. Forging links with other militant Islamist groups such as Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and Ansar Dine, AQIM became an influential player within the terrorist network of that region. Pressure from security forces in Algeria propelled the group to seek refuge in Mali where the 2012 conflict provided a safe haven for the group. Operation Serval launched by the French military in 2013 dealt a severe setback to AQIM since many of its fighters were killed and others dispersed to other parts of the region. From that period onwards, there has been a reduction in terror attacks and bombings. Yet, an increase in kidnapping of foreigners for ransom coupled with drug and contraband trafficking signalled a transformation in the modus operandi of the group. In trying to understand this trend, the study employed a qualitative method of data collection to examine the AQIM phenomenon. This involved applying the crime-terror paradigm in order to assess the evolution of AQIM from a terror group with political and religious intentions into a group engaged in criminal activities with economic motivations. Using desktop research and document analysis the study made concerted efforts to understand the causes and motivations of AQIM with the view to contribute towards formulating counter-terrorism measures that are more effective to address the threat of terrorism in the Sahel and North Africa. The findings of this study revealed inter alia that AQIM is a hybrid entity that displays both terrorist and criminal motivations which are determined by the context within which the group finds itself. One of the recommendations of this study is that concerted effort towards effectively countering the threat of terrorism is needed in order to ensure a holistic approach towards engaging this terrorist threat. In this regard, any strategy should include inter-regional information sharing among states and the creation of a joint commitment of forces in the Sahel with the aim of undertaking joint transnational operations along the borders. By so doing, terrorism could be contained even if it is not completely annihilated.
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    Child soldiers and the impact of violence and trauma on their psychosocial development in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
    (2014) Phakathi, Mnikeni Comfort; Chellan, Noel.
    This study has reviewed psychological, social, economic and political literature, which focus on analysing and quantifying the Child Soldier (CS) phenomenon. It acknowledges the contributions made by lawmakers and theorists in trying to understand and prevent the scourge from persisting in the Democratic republic of Congo and spreading globally. As proposals increase on how the children can be rehabilitated and reintegrated into original societies or places of safety, some activists prefer a long lasting political solution particularly an accountable management of natural resources through a democratically elected government. There are many factors contributing to the devastation suffered by child soldiers such as wide spread poverty and lack of infrastructure such as roads, schools and recreational facilities for children which inhibits development. Psychologists suggest digging deeper into the effects of stress and trauma on children affected by war because such children suffer pathologies greater than a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition, political economists argue that natural resources dependence and the unequal distribution have prolonged the war in the DRC and neighbouring countries. Research proves that children show remarkable resilience when faced with danger and abuse. They choose to forget the life threatening events as a survival mechanism. Misremembering helps them survive initially at the military camps. They apply the same mechanisms during reintegration with safer communities.
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    Four women, four chiefships : case studies in the divergent choices and negotiations with power of Amakhosikazi in nineteenth-century Natal.
    (2014) Jackson, Eva Aletta.; Parle, Julie.
    Although women’s status, roles and leadership opportunities in precolonial southern Africa, including within the Zulu kingdom, have been contested amongst historians for several decades, this study focuses specifically on these issues in chiefdoms that by the early colonial period were situated in the Natal region; an empirical gap. While largely focusing on four women who lived in early colonial Natal – Heshepi kaPhakathwayo, Mbalasi Makhanya, Dalida Dube, and Vundlazi MaSenca (of the Qwabe, Makhanya, Qadi and Izinkumbi chiefdoms respectively) – it also considers the experiences of numerous other women in these and other chiefly families (amakhosikazi). Detailing their different contexts and personal experiences, the study also locates them as female members of chiefly elites (whether of large or small chiefdoms) attempting in various ways to re-establish or sustain polities in the difficult context of early colonial Natal. Several of the women considered in the study had migrated southward following military clashes with the Zulu kingdom and the deaths of their husbands and/or fathers, and the chapters consider how the status of widow had vastly different implications across their different contexts. It draws preliminary conclusions regarding thematic threads in these case studies: the (exceptional) opportunities for specific women to own cattle; chiefly women’s opportunities for political influence including through strategic alliances with their sons and daughters; some chiefly women’s experience of simultaneous social prominence and social marginality; and (a previously unresearched area) the few women who became chiefs themselves in and near Natal in this time period. The study therefore provides the first conclusive evidence that Vundlazi was one of at least eight women in and near Natal who took up their deceased husbands’ chiefships (ranging from leadership of a large paramountcy to very small polities). An outline is suggested of the trajectory (and disappearance) of female chiefship in nineteenth-century Natal; and of conflicted colonial stances towards female chiefs within a context of patriarchal hierarchy and indirect rule in Natal. The thesis considers how these case studies relate to debate on precolonial gender relations, and contribute to the ongoing process of understanding how codified customary law was experienced from the 1870s onward.
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    The changing role of media and its impact on conflict : an analysis of new media in the Arab Spring Uprising of Egypt 2011.
    (2013) Janse van Vuuren, Danillé.; Tschudin, Alain Jean-Paul Charles.
    The Arab Spring Uprising of Egypt, that took place from the beginning of January 2011, received a considerable amount of attention from the media and broader international community. The Arab Spring Uprising of Egypt is in reaction to decades of dictatorship, degraded and undervalued standards of living, high inflation rates, failing economies, corruption and high unemployment rates. The Egyptian Uprising included demonstrations by widespread provincial activity and spontaneous protests in order to raise awareness and increase pressure on the Egyptian government to fulfil the demands of its people. New media was identified as a catalyst for the Egyptian revolution, since it was used as a tool to inform Egyptians as well as the rest of the world about the condition of the Egyptian conflict, it provided evidence of the regime’s illegitimacy, and it provided Egyptians with a platform to air their grievances with the Mubarak regime as well as to promote pro-democratic protests. This study is concerned with identifying how new media was used in Egypt’s Arab Spring Uprising as a tool to obtain pro-democratic goals and whether it resulted in a constructive transition to democracy. A discussion of the history of the Middle East and Egypt is provided as well as the Arab Spring Uprising of Egypt. Two predominant themes, namely: conflict, and the media will also be discussed. Furthermore, Conflict Theory and The Mass Communication Theory is applied in this study in order to interpret the uprising of Egypt.