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Title: 'Black children in a white school' : language, ideology and identity in a desegregated South African primary school
Author: Makoe, Pinky B.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2702 730X
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis is an account of a qualitative study, which set out to investigate how black multilingual children in their first year of formal schooling are socialised into the cultural practices, particularly the English language practices, and ethos at a former white English medium school in South Africa. This study is interdisciplinary drawing on social theories and poststructuralist epistemology to explore the relationship between ideology, language/knowledge practices and identity. In particular, I consider the discursive construction of English as legitimate language, while other forms of representation are viewed as 'abnormal'. Set in the context of post-apartheid South Africa, the study was located in a desegregated primary school in a suburban area of Johannesburg. Data was collected using ethnographic methods and drawing on the traditions of school ethnography. Qualitative data collection methods included non-participant observation, video recordings of classroom interactions, audio recordings of interviews, and learners' tasks. Forms of discourse analysis, blending approaches from sociology, education and applied linguistics, are used to analyse social interaction as a discursive site where resources are validated and marginalised, and as a site of identity construction. Bourdieu's notions of linguistic capital, linguistic markets and linguistic habitus inform my analysis. The analysis will also be located in Foucault's work, which sets out the constitutive forces, and discursive practices by which identities are constructed and negotiated within institutional contexts. The study reveals that proficiency in English, and access to specific cultural practices associated with English, enables learners with those resources to claim certain identity positions while those who do not have access to them become disadvantaged and marginalised. Despite the linguistically diverse nature of the institution, the school practices, discourse and ethos work toward monolingualism. I argue that the value and legitimacy attached to English plays a significant role in how black multilingual children in year one of schooling imagine themselves as members of this community. Through making visible, the ideological practices and assimilationist activities, especially with regard to dominant language/knowledge, this study hopes to raise questions of inequality and social justice in a society in transformation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available