THE RELIGIOUS-CULTURAL DISCOURSE

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CHAPTER 2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

INTRODUCTION

The aim of this study is to analyse the discourses pertaining to the way Tshivendaspeaking women construct performance of bereavement rituals. Therefore, a theoretical framework that considers performance of bereavement rituals as a social action is needed. This framework adheres to postmodern paradigms that regard the nature of reality as being socially constructed. For the purpose of this study, I have adopted a theoretical framework that emerged from a postmodern stance, namely, social constructionism, which assumes that performance of bereavement rituals is a socially constructed reality. Therefore, I cannot deny that multiple realities of performance of bereavement rituals could also exist. In this chapter, I first focus on where social constructionism originated and then address its nature as it is relevant to this study. The discourses that were identified from the literature chapters are also discussed in this chapter.

THE ORIGINS OF SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONISM

Like many theories, social constructionism originated from various sources and disciplines. Literature reports a gradual emergence of alternative approaches to the study of human beings in Britain and North America a few decades ago. These approaches arose in critical psychology, discursive psychology, discourse analysis, deconstruction and poststructuralism. What appeared to be common to these approaches is now referred to as social constructionism. Social constructionism is a theoretical orientation that underpins the approaches currently offering radical and critical alternatives in psychology and social psychology, as well as other disciplines in the social and human sciences (Burr, 2003).
In light of the origins of social constructionism, the factors influencing its emergence deserve attention. It is important to consider that these influences, and the history of social constructionism, are just one of many possible constructions of what was happening at the time. Literature shows that sociology fundamentally influenced the development of social constructionism (Burr, 2003). Sociology emphasises the thinking that, through social interaction with others, people construct their own and others’ identities and inner voices (Hoffman, 1993). The influence of sociology on social constructionism may be traced back to Berger and Luckmann’s (1966) book entitled The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge (Liebrucks, 2001). These authors’ account of social life argues that it is through social interaction and practices that human beings create and sustain all social phenomena. This occurs through externalisation, objectivation and internalisation.In “Introduction to social constructionism”, Burr (1995) argues that when people externalise, they get involved in some activity; they create some artefact or practice.For example, they may have an idea about a phenomenon like death, and externalise it by telling a story about such a phenomenon. As people listen to the story and retell it,the story takes a certain form. This is where its idea “becomes an object of consciousness for people in that society” (Burr, 1995, p. 10). This makes it appear to be something out there waiting to be known rather than something consisting of the constructions of people through their interaction. As a result, future generations end up internalising the idea that they found already in existence, and consciously understand it as part of their world. Keeney (1983) argues that one’s knowledge is recycled in the (re)construction of the world. This involves how the social practices of people can socially construct the world. At the same time, the social world can be experienced by people as something that was there. Burr (2003) maintains, therefore, that social constructionism carries the status of an object.Burr (2003) reports that social psychology emerged during the Second World War, at a time when psychologists wanted to provide the governments of the United States of America and Britain with knowledge that could be used for propaganda and to manipulate people. This occurred in a period when psychology was adopting the positivist methods of the natural sciences, that could not answer the how questions. In the 1960s and 1970s, social psychologists were worried about the way psychology was serving the dominant groups and ignoring the voices of the ordinary people. To create a balance between the marginal and the dominant groups, a number of books that proposed alternatives to positivist science were published (Hibberd, 2005). These books focussed on the accounts of ordinary people and challenged the oppressive ideological uses of psychology (Burr, 2003). These concerns are apparent in social constructionism.In psychology, social constructionism’s emergence dates back to Gergen’s (1973) paper “Social psychology as history”. In support of Gergen, Burr (2003) argues that all knowledge is historically and culturally specific. As a result, people have to extend their“enquiries into social, political and economic realms” so that they can understand the evolution of current psychology and social life (Burr, 2003, p. 13). Gergen’s (1973) paper also argues that there is no final description of people in a society because social life is not static, but always changing. That is also because meaning making is not static and fixed, but is fluid, provisional and context-dependent (Coyle, 2007).

READ  POST-DIVORCE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE 
1.3 ASSUMPTIONS AND PURPOSE OF THE STUDY 
1.4 ‘TRADITIONAL AFRICAN’ AND ‘AFRICAN CHRISTIAN’ GROUPS
1.5 ORGANISATION OF THE THESIS 
1.6 CONCLUDING REMARKS 
CHAPTER 2: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK 
2.1 INTRODUCTION 
2.2 THE ORIGINS OF SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONISM 
2.3 THE NATURE OF SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONISM 
2.4 THE RELIGIOUS-CULTURAL DISCOURSE 
2.4.1 Conceptualising the religious-cultural discourse
2.4.2 Social constructions informing the religious-cultural discourse
2.4.3 The model defined
2.4.3.1 Social discourse
2.4.3.2 Power discourse
2.4.3.3 Gender discourse
2.4.3.4 Abnormality discourse
2.4.3.5 Blame discourse
2.5 CONCLUDING REMARKS 
CHAPTER 3: RELIGIOUS-CULTURAL WORLDVIEW 
3.1 INTRODUCTION 
3.2 CULTURE AND RELIGION 
3.2.1 Culture
3.2.2 Religion
3.2.2.1 Religions in the Tshivenda-speaking community
3.2.2.2 Introduction of Christianity among the Tshivenda-speaking people
3.2.2.3 Construction of death as continuation of life
3.3 SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONS OF DEATH AND DYING
3.3.1 Socially constructed perceptions of death and dying
3.3.1.1 Good death
3.3.1.2 Wild death
3.3.1.3 Causes of death
3.4 CONCLUDING REMARKS
CHAPTER 4: BEREAVEMENT AND BEREAVEMENT RITUALS 
4.1 INTRODUCTION 
4.2 THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF BEREAVEMENT AND GRIEF 
4.2.1 Bereavement
4.2.2 Grief
4.2.3 Coping with death
4.3 DISCOURSES ON BEREAVEMENT AND MOURNING 
4.4 BEREAVEMENT RITUALS IN A TSHIVENDA–SPEAKING COMMUNITY
4.4.1 Meaning of rituals
4.4.2 Functions of rituals
4.4.2.1 Public display of grief
4.4.2.2 Assisting the deceased to the afterlife world
4.4.2.3 Assist change of status to new roles
4.4.2.4 Provision of healing or therapy
4.4.2.5 Purification of the mourners
4.5 GENDER AND BEREAVEMENT
4.5.1 Different rules for men and women
4.5.2 The power of religion and culture
4.5.3 Constructions of bereavement rituals according to gender
4.6 CONCLUDING REMARKS 
CHAPTER 5: METHODOLOGY 
5.1 INTRODUCTION 
5.2 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES 
5.3 RESEARCH APPROACH
5.3.1 Discourse
5.3.2 Discourse analysis
5.3.4 Credibility and trustworthiness in qualitative research
5.4 COLLECTING DISCOURSES 
5.4.1 Selecting participants
5.4.2 Focus group discussions
5.4.3 Procedures for focus group discussions
5.4.4 Ethical issues
5.4.5 Transcription and translation
5.5 ANALYSIS 
5.5.1 Unit of analysis
5.5.2 Analytical procedure
5.5.3 Identifying discourses
5.5.3.1 Organising discourses as a coherent system of meaning
5.5.3.2 Discourses as realised in text and the situated meanings
5.5.3.3 Discourses referring to other discourses
5.5.3.4 Discourses about objects and subjects
5.5.3.5 Discourses as historically based
5.5.3.6 Discourses as reproducing power relations
5.5.3.7 The dimension of interpretation
5.6 REFLEXIVITY 
5.7 CONCLUDING REMARKS 
CHAPTER 6: INTERPRETATIONS OF THE TEXT 
6.1 INTRODUCTION 
6.2 CONSTRUCTION OF GRIEF EXPERIENCES 
6.2.1 Reaction to the knowledge of death theme
6.2.2 Pain associated with multiple losses
6.2.3 The family responsibilities theme
6.2.4 The need for social support theme
6.3 CONSTRUCTION OF EXPERIENCES OF BEREAVEMENT RITUALS
6.3.1 The theme of cultural prescriptions
6.3.2 The theme of perceived functions of the bereavement rituals
6.3.3 The theme of agency and control
6.3.4 The theme of detachment
6.4 SUBJECT POSITIONS ENACTED WHEN GRIEVING FOR A DECEASED HUSBAND 
6.5 CONTRADICTIONS IN THE CONSTRUCTIONS OF BEREAVED WOMEN 
6.6 CONCLUDING REMARKS 
CHAPTER 7: DISCOURSE ANALYSIS
7.1 INTRODUCTION 
7.2 CONTEXT OF THE DISCOURSE – THE PARTICIPANTS’ STORIES 
7.3 DISCOURSES
7.4 CONCLUDING REMARKS 
CHAPTER 8: REFLECTIONS ON PROCESSES AND OUTCOMES
8.1 REFLECTION UPON THE PROCESSES AND OUTCOMES OF THE STUDY 
8.2 REFLEXIVITY
8.3 THE BUILDING TASKS AND DISCOURSES IDENTIFIED DURING ANALYSIS 
8.4 CONCLUSIONS 
8.5 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY 
8.6 RECOMMENDATIONS 
8.7 CONCLUSION 
REFERENCES

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