With the current crisis in Ukraine, a new study suggests the United Nations needs to look at conflict as a family definition, rather than as an academic concept."Conflict is a family-based concept that we need to have a new vocabulary in order to understand and address this challenge," said Dr. Anastasia Krivoshenko, a professor of sociology at Cornell University who led the study."The family conc...
A sociology professor in rural South Africa is using his academic expertise to redefine what a rural sociologist looks like.
Dr. Nhlanhla Ngozi, who teaches at the University of Cape Town, said he hopes his work will help rural South Africans understand the complex social relationships between communities and the state.
“This will allow us to understand how we are perceived, what our values are and how we can help create a better future for ourselves and our families,” he told Recode.
“I want to provide a context for people, not just what we have experienced, but how we have been created.”
Ngozi is currently working on a paper titled ‘Rural Sociology: What Does it Mean?’
He said that the paper is being produced as part of a research project to understand what it means to be a rural South African.
“It’s a study that takes us from the social, cultural and political dimensions of what a social scientist is,” he said.
“We are also looking at how people perceive themselves and what their identity is.”
Our research is aimed at understanding how rural South blacks and whites experience each other in a way that is different from what we experience in urban areas.
“Dr Ngozzi said he has spent his life studying the impact of economic development and inequality on the lives of rural South people.”
What’s interesting is the relationship between inequality and social conflict and the way that we respond to it,” he explained.”
In rural South, there is a sense of being disenfranchised, and the economic crisis has impacted people’s social relationships with each other.
“As the economy has gone down, so has the level of poverty and social tension.”‘
Rural sociology’ in contextWhen Dr. Ngozis work began in the 1980s, the definition of a rural sociology professor was unclear.
“For the most part, I thought we were talking about people in rural areas,” he recalled.
“The problem with that is that rural sociology is a relatively new concept in South Africa, and it is a concept that doesn’t have a very clear historical basis,” he added.
“There are very few studies that really have gone through it.”
When you study the history of rural sociology, there’s very little evidence of it really being anything like the way we understand it today.
“DrNgozi’s paper is based on a series of questions asked to participants during a study of South African rural life.
Participants were asked how they defined rural sociology in relation to what they had experienced and what they felt was important.”
You are asked about the way you perceive yourself in relation and the experiences of your family and community,” he stated.”
Each of these things can be viewed as the totality of your experiences as a rural person, and as a person who lives in rural communities.
“In order to answer the questions, Dr Ngozu used a questionnaire, which included questions about what the participants had experienced, and how they felt about their relationship to their communities.
The study found that rural sociologists in rural countries were often viewed as being in their own little bubble.”
Rural sociology is very much about the individual,” he concluded.”
Because of that, the sociologist has to be willing to engage with their community in a very intimate way, and in a respectful way.
“But we also have to acknowledge that this is also a very social science.”