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Race, class, gender and sexuality: a case of a South African university campus.

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Within the South African higher education context, the meanings that students attach to race, class, gender and sexuality are not ahistorical or apolitical simultaneously tied to their particular socio-cultural and material circumstances. This case study examines how students at a South African university campus give meaning to race, class, gender and sexuality. The study is set in the context of the 2008 Soudien Report which for the first time provided a descriptive account of the social problems in South African higher education institutions. The report noted that demise of apartheid inequalities of race, class, gender and sexuality manifest with negative implications for higher education students. Whilst access to higher education in post-apartheid South Africa has increased dramatically for students of all races, asymmetrical relations of power continue to play out on campuses troubling the post-apartheid South African mandate of redress and transformation foregrounding identity discourses as core to the issues of transformation and social cohesion. Students entering the higher education system are inadvertently products of their social, historical, cultural and material upbringing. In this thesis, I argue that students shape meanings of race, class, gender and sexuality and these have effects for understanding transformation and social cohesion in this particular university setting. This thesis is qualitative in nature situated within a feminist poststructuralist framework using an eclectic approach to the concepts used to understand how race, class, gender and sexuality coalesce to advance transformation. I document myresearch journey in narrative style utilising observations, structured and unstructured interviews and document analysis as a means of data collection. The findings of this study illuminate the multi-dimensionality and fluidity of student realities and the socio-cultural and material processes through which their subjectivities are produced. Race, class, gender, and sexuality intersect to shape student lives and the meanings that they attach to these discursive constructions have implications for social cohesion and the transformation agenda in South African higher education.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.