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Identity Construction and (Mis) Perceptions on Being Black in South Africa

Unpacking Socio-Economic, Spatial, and Political Dimensions in the South Durban Basin


Urmilla Bob, Munashe Furusa and William A. Little

Identity Construction and (Mis) Perceptions on Being Black in South Africa: Unpacking Socio-Economic, Spatial, and Political Dimensions in the South Durban Basin presents the research findings of a two-year empirically based study on the politics of race, ethnicity, and identity in Durban, South Africa, among Black or non-White groups, specifically the historical racial categories of African, Indian, and Colored. Research on race and identity politics tends to focus on Black-White relations. Thus, there is a gap in our understanding of ethnic and racial interactions among Blacks. This study challenges the tendency to reduce race to a Black-White binary. The research also recognizes that the examination of differences within and between groups is necessary to understand the complexity of the issues. Its key contributions are in relation to examining the question of identity politics (in terms of nationality, ethnicity, race, class, and gender); unpacking hierarchical and spatial relationships and interactions among and between communities and groups in the home, work places, social arenas, and other public spaces; and highlighting points of conflict/contestation. The main focus is on differential experiences, realities, and perceptions among and between groups.

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Chapter 4. Social Interaction: Nature, Type and Context


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This chapter examines social interaction at the individual and community levels among Blacks in the SDB area. The results indicate that social interactions among historically oppressed Black groups are deeply embedded in power dynamics at both the group and personal levels. Social interaction derives primarily from the social, political and economic environments that frame individuals’ experiences and perceptions within both the global and particular societal contexts. Key areas of focus include: nature and patterns of specific types of social interaction, perceptions of change in relation to interaction (especially during the past decade), rating of level of interaction among respondents, ability to initiate relationships, and where interactions generally take place. The chapter focuses firstly on a broad discussion of the conceptual issues relating to the study of social interaction. The rest of the chapter presents and discusses the primary data collected. ← 55 | 56 →

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