Identity and worldview issues in rural development : a case study : reintegration of ex-street children into communities in rural Transkei

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study explores the complex problem of socio-cultural change and continuity in Africa; the basic human drives for physical survival and identity; and how the danger of self-alienation and anomie might be overcome. Worldview Analysis and Human Scale Development are brought together and focused on a particular context of socio-economic development in a situation of competing worldviews in rural Transkei. People in rural Transkei experience competing worldviews and values out of a dual quest for economic advancement in an increasingly industrialized society, on the one hand, and the maintenance of identity, on the other. The prioritizing of economic development is seen to contradict the value of an African cultural identity. In the absence of a mediating symbolic network to facilitate the renegotiation of identity, these values remain in tension. In PART ONE I discuss the problem in the context of the necessity for economic growth and Human Scale Development in a democratic South Africa. My general research hypothesis is founded on this discussion. It states that "Social and economic development, in a situation of competing worldviews, depends on the mediation of conflicting symbols in a manner which is not inconsistent with the economic imperatives." In PART TWO this macro-study is scaled down to an empirically testable, research project. The hypothesis of the micro-study reads as follows: "Integrated identity and belonging for ex-street children, in a situation of competing worldviews, depends on the mediation of conflicting paradigmatic symbols." Both hypotheses are informed by theories of religion, identity and development drawing on the works of Max-Neef and Cumpsty. The situation of competing worldviews experienced by a group of ex- street children is described. I then show that social development in this context is impeded by the lack of mediation between conflicting paradigmatic elements and values. Thereafter, much attention is given to the difficult task of designing tools to map identity and values of individuals, locating critical points of tension between conflicting values and, finding mediating symbols. Finally, I examine a range of corporate strategies that demonstrate ways of mediating between the conflicting paradigmatic symbols.

Bibliography: leaves 93-97.