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Identity, Agency and Social Institutions in Educational Ethnography

ISBN: 978-0-76231-144-6, eISBN: 978-1-84950-297-9

ISSN: 1529-210X

Publication date: 30 December 2004


This study examines the experiences and perceptions of boys and girls vis-à-vis racial integration in two former segregated South African secondary schools. The study is presented in a twofold way since it explores the ethnographic methodological understanding and dilemmas of conducting ethnographic race research in South Africa, and the gendered differences and identities through the manner in which the boys and the girls mediated racial integration in a micro school setting. These two dimensions are tied together in order to present a coherent relationship from the conceptual understanding of ethnographic race research to the dominant themes that emerged in the process of generating that knowledge. The study is part of a Ph.D. project, which was conducted in order to understand how the process of racial integration was experienced and perceived by students in two South African Secondary schools. In 1996 the South African government passed legislation desegregating segregated schools. However, a number of exclusive schools had already opened their doors to non-white students in the 1990’s. There had been studies conducted on these former segregated schools, which mirrored different dimensions from racial desegregation of schools to complex processes of racial integration (Bhana, 1994; Carrim & Mkwanazi, 1993; Dolby, 2001; Metcalfe, 1991; Valley & Dalamba, 1999). This study moved from a premise to study racially integrated schools with a relatively stable reputation in order to find out what is happening today in these schools vis-à-vis the process and extent of racial desegregation. What emerged at the end was a dialectic relationship between the gendered reaction to integration and the dominant school ethos.


Klaas, J. (2004), "AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF GENDER DIFFERENCES: RACIAL INTEGRATION IN SOUTH AFRICAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS", Troman, G., Jeffrey, B. and Walford, G. (Ed.) Identity, Agency and Social Institutions in Educational Ethnography (Studies in Educational Ethnography, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 85-102.

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