Adolescent experience of intergroup contact in South Africa and its impact on identity development : a qualitative study

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This research study presents an enquiry into adolescents' experience of the process of intergroup contact in South Africa, with a particular emphasis on the impact of such contact on adolescent identity development. A particular instance of intergroup contact is examined, namely a drama project which brought together ten high school pupils from two very different school and home environments. Literature from both developmental psychology and social psychology was accessed to shed light on the research area, and an attempt was made to integrate the various bodies of literature, using a social constructionist perspective. A conceptual framework was developed to depict the integration between the various areas of literature. A qualitative methodology was adopted in order to facilitate an in-depth understanding of the participants' experience. Multiple methods of data collection were used, namely participant observation, interviews, pieces of writing (essays and biographies), questionnaires and video material. A computer programme, Ethnograph, was used to analyse the data and generate codes, which shaped the categories used in reporting the findings. Further, the findings were integrated with the conceptual framework developed from the literature. This integrative framework is depicted diagrammatically. The findings focus primarily on the complexity of processes involved in the impact of the intergroup situation on adolescent identity, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between personal and social identity.

Bibliography: leaves 120-128.