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Research Articles (Psychology)

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    Psychosocial influences on substance abuse in a sample of South African youth: a qualitative analysis.
    (2012) Gopal, Nirmala Devi.; Collings, Steven John.
    This study investigated the lived experience of substance abusers in the South African context. Participants were 10 individuals attending a drug treatment centre in Durban, South Africa. Data were collected using open-ended interviews with data being analysed using thematic analysis. Findings suggest that normative social influences and levels of social support play an important role in shaping, maintaining, and determining the trajectory of drug usage.
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    The role of language and gender in the naming and framing of HIV/AIDS in the South African context.
    (Taylor and Francis, 2006) Clark, Judeline Geraldine.
    Language is at the core of the network of resources that we draw on in describing the world and relating to others, and as such HIV/AIDS cannot be separated from the ways in which we think about it, talk about it, and act on it. This article attempts to provide a contextualised interrogation of the meanings that have been made of HIV/AIDS. It draws on a critical feminist research project that discursively analyses black women's life narratives and is informed by the theoretical resources at the interface of feminist, poststructuralist and postcolonial knowledges. In attending to the texts and contexts within which HIV/AIDS is produced, this article analyses general everyday talk as well as participants' narrative accounts within the research context. It explores the ways in which they work as (gendered) articulations of discursive networks that to different extents reveal or conceal the historical legacies and ideological underpinnings of a social phenomenon such as HIV/AIDS. The various coded references to HIV/AIDS are considered with regard to their political, cultural and gendered power upon women's everyday lived experience. This contextualised analysis opens up valuable possibilities for a cultural re-evaluation of HIV/AIDS that goes beyond narrow explanations of illness and stigma and flags the significance of local discourses of HIV/AIDS in the South African context.
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    Disruptive or merely alternative? A case study of a South African gay church.
    (Journal of Gender and Religion in Africa., 2011) Potgieter, Cheryl.; Reygan, Finn.
    The main aim of this article is to engage with how a South African church through its discursive practices, continues to live out the conviction set out in Germond and de Gruchy's 1997 book "Aliens in the Household of God" that homosexuals are indeed not aliens in the household of God. The first part of the article briefly overviews the legal construction of homosexuality in South Africa during the 20th century and challenges the claim that homosexuality is "un-African". The latter positioning will foreground our case study of the South African Good Hope Metropolitan Community Church (GHMCC), which has its origins abroad and is attended by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (LBGT) congregants. The study provides a discursive analysis of the online written materials of GHMCC and the dominant discourses which emerged out of this analysis were: Liberation and equality discourse; Discourse of natural and normal: disrupting gender?; Discourse challenging conservative Christian hegemony; Discourse of heteropatriarchal Christian sex; Missing feminist discourses: tensions and silences; and Discourse of religious colonialism. Silent and less dominant discourses regarding race, gender and homophobia in relation to identity and religion are explored and interpreted within a feminist social constructionist paradigm. Concluding remarks talk to further research and to the danger of the (GHMCC) continued silence on issues such as poverty, racism and sexism within South African society.
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    An explorative study of serial rape and victimisation risk in South Africa.
    (Acta Criminologica., 2010) De Wet, Johan Andrew.; Labuschagne, G.N.; Potgieter, Cheryl.
    Serial rape attracts much media attention and has become a topic of increased interest and concern. However, both locally and internationally, there is a paucity of empirically based research. The limited research which exists often does not focus on the victim as a “subject” which could contribute to solving existing cases or in curtailing the serial rapist. In this article, socio-demographic characteristics of 75 victims of serial rape, and how they were selected by the rapist were used to construct a general profile of the people who are the targets of the serial rapist. Factors or contexts which put women at risk are also identified and investigated. Comparisons are made between the characteristics of the victims of serial rapists in other countries, while comparisons are also made between the victims of single-victim rapists and those of the serial rapist. Of great concern is, amongst others, that the results indicate that in South Africa a large number of victims of the serial rapist are girl children. Limitations of the research are indicated, while a suggestion for future research concludes the article.
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    Liberated through submission? The Worthy Woman's Conference as a case study of Formenism.
    (Indiana University Press, 2010) Nadar, Sarojini.; Potgieter, Cheryl.
    In this article, Nadar and Potgieter use the Worthy Women’s Conference as a case study, describing and analyzing how this movement creates and maintains what they call the formenist position. Formenism, like masculinism, subscribes to a belief in the inherent superiority of men over women, but unlike masculinism it is not an ideology developed and sustained by men, but an ideology designed, constructed, and sustained by women. Like its phonetics suggests, this is a concept for men—that is to say, men are the chief beneficiaries of the hierarchical social positioning that it advocates. They conduct their evaluation of the movement through a feminist analysis of the discourses presented in various sources. Nadar and Potgieter argue that the complementarian “liberation through submission” discourse created through the formenist position seems palatable for at least three reasons: (1) because it relies on a power that is not forceful (sovereign) but disciplinary à la Michel Foucault’s notion of power, (2) because patriarchal bargaining pays a dividend of increased responsibility for men that ultimately reduces the burdens of family life that women have traditionally carried, and (3) because it aids in the reduction of existential anxiety caused by radical changes in South Africa. Nadar and Potgieter assert that while the formenist discourse might seem liberatory and harmless, when one views it through a feminist lens, a number of drawbacks come into focus—drawbacks that can ultimately put women’s well-being and fundamental freedoms at risk.
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    Environmental conflicts and women's vulnerability in Africa.
    (African Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2010) Perry, Edwin C.; Potgieter, Cheryl.; Bob, Urmilla.
    This article examines environmental conflicts and women’s vulnerability in Africa. Environmental resources are critical to poor women’s productive and reproductive lives in Africa. Environmental resources diversify livelihoods and are key to the survival strategies women adopt. Environmental conflicts are of concern in several parts of Africa and they have gendered impacts that need to be considered. This article focuses on two main aspects. The first examines the linkages between environmental conflicts, women’s vulnerability and gender-based violence. The second considers environmental conflicts, access to resources and women’s vulnerability. In particular, the focus is on the way in which conflicts restrict women’s access to and control of environmental resources. Additionally, the impacts of environmental degradation which tend to characterise environmental conflicts are considered. The article also briefly discusses women’s responses and adaptation strategies to the challenges they confront in relation to environmental conflicts.
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    'Sometimes taxi men are rough..' : young women's experiences of the risks of being a 'taxi queen'.
    (African Safety Promotion Journal, 2011) Shefer, Tamara.; Strebel, Anna.; Potgieter, Cheryl.; Wagner, Claire.
    The 'taxi queen' phenomenon in which young women become involved with older male taxi drivers while taking public transport has received little attention as an area of research. However, there are concerns that the exploitative nature of such practices of transactional sex may have public health consequences, in particular exposure to coercive sexual practices, risk of HIV infection, unwanted pregnancies, substance abuse, and economic vulnerability of young girls. This study aimed to explore the experiences of school-age girls of their relationships with public mini-bus taxi drivers, in order to achieve a better understanding of these relationships and their consequences. The study was conducted in 2009 in Cape Town and the southern Cape region in the Western Cape Province. Given the exploratory nature of the study, qualitative methodology was used. An open-ended qualitative interview guide was developed, and 25 interviews were conducted: 16 in Cape Town, and nine in the southern Cape region. Ages ranged from 13 to 31, although the majority were in their mid-teens. Thematic analysis of the interviews generated a rich and complex range of perspectives, with many contradictory perceptions and experiences emerging from the texts. While there was widespread recognition of the transactional and stigmatising nature of the relationship between older taxi drivers and so-called taxi queens, and that there were a range of physical and emotional risks related to these relationships, the research also highlighted the manner in which the phenomenon of taxi queens gives expression to issues both unique to the particular dynamics of these transactional relationships, as well reflective of the experiences of youth more generally. Thus, in considering young women's vulnerability to violent, coercive and risky practices that may endanger their health and well-being, greater understanding of the specificity and variability of these experiences, together with recognition of the resonances with broader concerns facing South African youth, are needed. It is important that responses to the taxi queen phenomenon do not simply problematise the young women, but rather address the larger context that both facilitates such relationships as well as exacerbates the impact.
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    A descriptive study of the modus operandi of serial rapists in South Africa.
    (Acta Criminologica, 2010) De Wet, Johan Andrew.; Potgieter, Cheryl.
    This article reflects research of which the aim is to increase our collective knowledge of the modus operandi of serial rapists in South Africa in an attempt to contribute to the prevention and prosecution of perpetrators. The sample consists of 22 convicted cases of serial rapists and reflects 204 victims. The authors note that a mere understanding of the modus operandi of serial rapists is not sufficient to fully understand the behavior of these perpetrators. However, they draw attention to the argument that understanding the perpetrator’s modus operandi has been recognized by both criminal investigators and academics as making a valuable contribution to understanding crimes, including that of serial rapists. A behavioural checklist was developed to provide assistance with accounting for the chronological pattern of the crime from the time of victim acquisition to the actual attack. The rational choice perspective and routine activity theory were then used as an organizing framework within which to analyse the strategies of the perpetrator. The results indicated that the modus operandi exhibited by a group of serial rapists in South Africa differs from offenders in other countries. Aspects of the routine activity theory is contextualized and utilized to interpret the current findings. The authors highlight shortcomings of the current research and suggest how the current findings should form the basis of further research.
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    "Don't touch me on my psychology and religion!" : feminist backlash in a wearable cloak and different voice.
    (Agenda., 2010) Potgieter, Cheryl.; Nadar, Sarojini.
    In this article it is argued that feminist successes in South Africa are being ‘overshadowed’ by movements which are essentially anti-feminist and brazenly patriarchal, but which go unchallenged because these movements are protected by the freedom of religion clause in the Constitution. Further, these movements and the messages they preach are drawing large numbers of educated men and women of all ages under the guise of what Nadar (2009) has labeled Palatable Patriarchy and what Nadar and Potgieter (2010) have labeled Formenism. This article draws on the online advice column run by Gretha Wiid (one of the many ‘services’ offered by her) as material for a feminist rhetorical discursive textual analysis, and illustrates how these growing movements are challenging and negating feminist successes with very little (if any) challenge from feminist intellectuals, feminist organisations and especially the State. Two rhetorical discourses emanating from the movement are identified – termed psychologisation and pastoralisation. These movements are offering a space whereby everyday challenges (bankruptcy, global economic crisis, unemployment, marriage problems, crime) of persons from a range of backgrounds are being addressed in “ways” and by people who they identify with and aspire to. In conclusion the article engages with how feminists could respond to these challenges.