Township families and social change : a pilot study.
Campbell, Catherine Magda.
MetadataShow full item record
On-going research into township family life in Natal has pointed to the need to develop a conceptualisation of the family that is appropriate to local historical and material conditions. In particular, such a conceptualisation should take account of the effects of rapid social change on township family relations. On the basis of a critical review of existing definitions of the family, the present report contributes to' the establishment of such a conceptualisation. To this end, it draws on in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted with 22 members of-five township families in early 1988, where respondents spoke in 'detail about their family life. It draws on these interviews with the aim of establishing "grounded theory" viz: a theory of the family 'grounded in the concrete-experience' of township residents as reflected in their accounts of their day-to-day experience. Drawing on a detailed analysis of these interviews, the report outlines an indigenous theory of the family. This theory reflects the implicit definition of the family underlying the township respondents' accounts of their family experience. This indigenous theory of the family defines it in terms of (i) the composition of the family; (ii) power relations within the family; and (iii) functions of the family. On the basis of the interview data, the report outlines a conceptual framework which builds on the notions of contradiction and culture. This framework is offered as a potentially useful analytic tool for investigating the impact of social change on the family, as defined by the indigenous theory. The report concludes with a critique of the concept of 'family disintegration', which is often used to describe changing social relations in township families. It is argued that the' family is currently the strongest and most empowering social institution in the disrupted fabric of township social life.