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Discourses of workplace violence : painting a picture of the South African Police Service

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dc.contributor.advisor Blanche, Martin Terre Schiff, Kerry-Gaye 2011-09-26T06:34:32Z 2011-09-26T06:34:32Z 2010-11
dc.identifier.citation Schiff, Kerry-Gaye (2010) Discourses of workplace violence : painting a picture of the South African Police Service, University of South Africa, Pretoria, <> en
dc.description.abstract Workplace violence is reported to be on the increase, and within the South African Police Service, the inherently stressful nature of policing leads to high rates of suicide and violent behaviour. Contemporary investigations of workplace violence reveal epistemological, methodological and theoretical biases towards positivistic, rational-empirical approaches resulting in partial understandings and limited scope. This study aimed to qualitatively explore workplace violence as a socially embedded act. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with a primary participant and three others directly related to him in order to supplement existing understandings from a social constructionist perspective. Discourse analysis allowed for discovery of socio-historically located discursive networks, while an ethnographic or empathic technique was used to gain insight into the life worlds of participants. Discourses of organisational negligence, betrayal and concurrent discourses of group solidarity and cohesion and organisational culpability reveal a reliance on external locus of control and avoidance coping. Discourses of absolution due to another‟s involvement, retribution, justice, and innocence perverted by a stronger agency relied on strategies of justification, denial, disclaimer, excuse or apology to negotiate positive participant identities. Discourses of masculinity allowed for a corroboration, justification and maintenance of male violence in general, and social discourses of female subjugation and commodification were used as a means to deflect responsibility and as justifications for actions of violence towards women. Inherent in all discourses was a deep socially and historically embedded conception that facilitates violent action as an expression of maleness in all spheres of life. From an ethnographic or empathic perspective, participants‟ world views were polarised around masculinity and femininity, suggesting that an ability to remain unemotional in situations of turmoil is a highly-prized characteristic of maleness, especially in a hypermasculine setting such as the police. The implicit and explicit approbation for the expression of masculine stoicism, as opposed to feminine or „weaker‟ emotions, causes recruits to experience isolation and shame if unable to face traumatic situations with the requisite dispassion, leading to negative coping mechanisms, depression, and suicide or violence. The conclusion can be drawn that prevention of violence relies on extrication of the concept of violence from masculinity at ideological, cultural and social levels within the SAPS, and the concurrent reduction in justificatory discourses reliant on an external locus of control. This has considerable implications, including the radical transformation of the organisation through the development of a clear vision of the future that can be supported by management, members and the community; the empowerment of employees through active participation in decisions and development of skills through training; rigorous modification of the practices that generate inequitable social conditions; and the revolution of cultural practices that venerate and enforce gendered inequalities. en
dc.format.extent 1 online resource (vii, 420 leaves)
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject South African Police Service en
dc.subject Workplace violence en
dc.subject Social constructionism en
dc.subject Masculinities en
dc.subject Suicide en
dc.subject Discourse analysis en
dc.subject.ddc 658.473
dc.subject.lcsh Violence in the workplace -- Psychological aspects
dc.subject.lcsh Violence in the workplace -- Prevention
dc.subject.lcsh Violence in the workplace -- Social aspects
dc.subject.lcsh Violence in the workplace -- Sex differences
dc.title Discourses of workplace violence : painting a picture of the South African Police Service en
dc.type Thesis en
dc.description.department Psychology D. Litt. et Phil. (Consulting Psychology)

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