Children's construction of the 'self' within two urban impoverished communities in Cape Town
This study aimed to explore how children construct and assign meaning to the 'self' within two urban impoverished communities in the Western Cape, South Africa. Within this process the study aimed to explore how these constructions and meaning assignations were manifested within children's discourses. Additionally, the study aimed to explore the implications of the children's perspectives on developing intervention programmes for the promotion of a healthy self-concept. The study was conducted through three sequential phases; (1) systematic review, (2) child participation, and (3) intervention programme development. Phase one: the systematic review, aimed to systematically review academic literature focused on how children construct and assign meaning to the 'self.' An article search and appraisal yielded 38 articles that met the inclusion criteria. Meta-synthesis was used to analyse the findings. Six central thematic categories emerged as the key influences on children's constructions of the self. These include multidimensionality, discursive practices, socio-environmental conditions, oppression & marginalisation, culture, and social support. Phase two: child participation, consisted of two separate studies. The first study utilized a child participation framework to explore children's discursive constructions of and meanings assigned to the 'self' within two urban communities of the Western Cape, South Africa. Eight focus group discussions were conducted amongst fifty-four children between the ages of 9 to 12. Thematic and discourse analysis were used to analyse the findings. The themes of childhood, social connectedness, and children's spaces were identified to have a vital influence on children's self-concept. Four underlying discourses emerged within the themes as central to the participant's self-constructions. These included; (1) 'forfeited childhood,' (2) 'vulnerability and helplessness,' (3) 'preserving the integrity of the self,' and (4) 'opportunities for escape.' The sequential study aimed to explore how children construct and assign meaning to the 'self' within two urban communities of the Western Cape in South Africa through the use of visual methods. The data collection methods included Photovoice and community maps with 54 participants between the ages of 9 to 12. Feelings of safety, social connectedness, and children's spaces all played a central role in the way in which the participants constructed and assigned meaning to the 'self.' Phase three: Children's programme implications, consisted of a study which aimed to explore children's perceptions of the nature and content of intervention programmes aimed at improving children's self-concept within two impoverished communities of the Western Cape, South Africa. The Delphi technique was followed with a group of ten children between the ages of 10 and 12 years who were considered to be the experts on matters affecting their lives. The participants identified the factors which influence children's self-concept to include; childhood reality, feelings, and relationships. The participants' suggestions for intervention programmes included a focus on safety, social support, opportunities for learning and for play, and basic needs. The study elucidated the value in using participatory methods with children, especially the use of the Delphi method for eliciting children's perspectives for interventions aimed at improving matters related to their well-being.