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Performative Praxis

Teacher Identity and Teaching in the Context of HIV/AIDS

Mary Jean Baxen

It is widely recognized that the South African government’s exemplary HIV/AIDS education policy is not making the behaviour-changing impact that it ought. Why is this? What is actually happening in the school classroom?
In this book, Jean Baxen makes an important contribution towards understanding the complex interface between the HIV/AIDS education curriculum and what and how teachers are teaching in the classroom. Bringing Judith Butler’s theory of performativity to bear in an analysis of the pedagogic practice of a number of teachers in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga, the author shows how teachers’ personal conception of their role and identity as educators plays a vitally important role in filtering and shaping the classroom transmission of key information and attitudes.


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4 Subjectivity and Giddens’s theory of structuration 69


69 4 Subjectivity and Giddens’s theory of structuration Giddens offers a perspective on structure and agency quite different from that postulated by other social theorists. For the most part, theorists like Bourdieu have developed frameworks that demonstrate a complex inter- relationship between structure and agent, but downplay the agent’s abil- ity to transform structures. These frameworks assume that structures op- erate ‘external to human action’ and as such constrain rather than enable and constrain (Giddens, 1984: 16). Giddens, however, proposes a dif- ferent concept of the relationship between structure and agent, in which the latter is positioned as resourceful, and structures are seen as resources to draw on rather than solely constraining mechanisms. Three key elements constitute Giddens’s theory of structuration: ‘structure’, ‘system’, and ‘duality of structure.’ To him structures exist as rules and resources that people draw on in order to map out the plans of action in their daily lives. Structures, however, do not function outside of the individual but rather act as “memory traces, and are ‘in- stantiated’ in social practice” (Giddens, 1984: 25). Giddens suggests that while this might be the case, structures comprise typical features or what he calls “structuring properties”, which are able to withstand the confines of time and space (Giddens, 1998: 25). Structures are durable not because they pre-exist outside the individual as Bourdieu suggests, but rather because people in their day-to-day actions repeat them, thus making them seem durable and permanent. According to Giddens (1984: 25–26): The reification of social...

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