The Moral Ecology of South Africa’s Township Youth
  • Publication Date: 2010
  • Dimensions and Pages: 234 x 156 x 15, 228 pages
  • EAN: 9781868145225
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 100.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): n/a

With the publication of iKasi, Sharlene Swartz has established herself as one of the leading new social scientists in post-Apartheid literature. What distinguishes this book in its field is the fresh theorising on moral conduct that goes beyond two familiar tropes in youth research – the dismissal of troubled youth as group pathology, on the one hand, and the valorisation of the same youth as rebels with a righteous cause. I have been waiting for a sophisticated piece of writing on the post-Apartheid condition to offer as required reading to my 30 000 students. This is it.

— Professor Jonathan Jansen, vice chancellor, University of the Free State, author of Knowledge in the Blood

An important, deeply moving study of the moral thinking and behaviour of young black people in a South African township. This book is reported with affection and critical analysis. It should be useful for educators everywhere who work with populations that have suffered discrimination and exploitation.

— Professor Nel Noddings, author of Critical Lessons: What Our Schools Should teach and Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education.

iKasi examines how disenfranchised youth living in poverty think about morality. While being spared the Apartheid era struggle, these youth grew up in a township (or ikasi in local vernacular) context of partial-parenting, partial-schooling, and in the midst of rampant crime, violence and substance use. Through a detailed ethnographic study, Sharlene Swartz describes how a group of young people aged between 14 and 20 understand right and wrong, what rules govern their behaviour, how they explain the gap between what they say is right and wrong, what rules govern their behaviour, how they explain the gap between what they say is right and what they do in the moral sphere, and ultimately the multiple ways in which they construct meaning from the influences in their immmediate contexts (or moral ecologies). It provides an analysis of their moral influences and the emaning attributed to each – from mothers, absent fatehrs, younger siblings, friends, vibrant youth culture, school, faith and cultural beliefs (such as witchcraft and protective amulets) through to the impact of violent, rubbish-strewn communities and government policies. iKasi offers a fresh sociological perspective on poverty and morality are connected and how morality may be considered a form of capital in the lives of marginalised youth.

Dr Sharlene Swartz is a youth activist, sociologist and senior research specalist at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa, and a visiting research fellow at the University of Cambridge. She holds a masters degree from Harvard University and a PhD in the Sociology of Education from the University of Cambridge.

Table of Contents

  • Part One The South African Moral Context
  • Chapter 1 Studying Youth Morality in a Context of Poverty
  • Chapter 2 South Africa’s fractured morality: A youth perspective
  • Chapter 3 ‘What world is this?’ Complex social realities
  • Part Two Youth morality in the aftermath of apartheid
  • Chapter 4 Constructing moral codes of right and wrong
  • Chapter 5 Positioning others and locating the moral self
  • Chapter 6 Moral processes: Decision-making and dissonance
  • Chapter 7 Making meaning of moral influences
  • Part Three Applying contextual moral knowledge
  • Chapter 8 Theorising a notion of ‘moral capital’
  • Chapter 9 Implications for classrooms and communities

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