Perceptions of Immigrant Nigerian Women in South African Higher Education about Social Change 1

By Potokri, Onoriode Collins; Noah, Adewale Olumuyiwa K. et al. | Educational Research for Social Change, September 2018 | Go to article overview

Perceptions of Immigrant Nigerian Women in South African Higher Education about Social Change 1


Potokri, Onoriode Collins, Noah, Adewale Olumuyiwa K., Perumal, Juliet, Educational Research for Social Change


Introduction and Background

A society is synonymous with an organisation with differentiated elements fulfilling the needs for subsistence, reproduction, regulation, and decision making (Peil, 1977). Also, a society is a political, independent entity referred to as a nation state. In this study, the participants are from a nation state, Nigeria. According to Wetherell (2006), society has a set of effects that cannot be "wished away" and that to understand someone's life history, their social position must be taken into consideration. On the other hand, one cannot simply state that society determines an individual's life history (Connell, 1995). A society involves people who are functionally integrated to ensure the progress and survival of the whole. The nature, development, and growth of any society thus depends on its citizens-their acquired skills, political atmosphere, co-existence, tolerance, social characteristics, and environment (Singh, 2007). This implies that the composition or characteristics of people largely determine the progress or regression of societies. At the same time, as Wetherell (2006) argued, societies make and change people because societies evolve through different stages of development that run parallel with social changes. Therefore, social change helps people to understand, discover, and construct ideas and actions, which in turn, form the basis of culture and tradition, social control, and social order (Pareto, 1916/1963; Singh, 2007).

Change is everywhere: "births, marriages and deaths of friends and relatives, migration, the crisis of schooling or the stages of a career make up the fabric of our individual life-worlds" (Noble, 2000, p. 1). In this study, change is viewed as uncertainties in the certainties among and within people. The desire for change among people makes them insatiable social and political beings whose wants are unlimited despite limited resources.

The globalisation of today's world is a manifestation of provoked change among people, and reflects people's refusal to be confined to a particular task, geographical location, language, culture, music, and so forth. Usually these changes, as Perez (2004) noted, are socially constructed and naturally influenced, leading to individuals' socialisation by their similar experiences, similar materials, and similar opportunities and resources which, in turn, lead to everyone arriving at similar views, similar opinions, and acting in similar ways as a people. This was evident in the presidential elections in the United States of America when Barrack Obama, the first black president, was voted into power. The people of America were able to achieve this unique and memorable outcome with the power of change-not as individuals but as a people. Their slogan for the election was "Change We Can!" In the light of changing circumstances, social change can be regarded as a reaction to societal events via vocal attitude and change in beliefs and behaviour among citizens.

According to Singh (2007), social change refers to the fact that larger numbers of people than ever before are engaged in different activities. Social change sharpens our understanding of different strands of complex subjects associated with people in a society. Understanding people is no small task given differences in religion, traditions, beliefs, family background, and so forth. However, social change can be used to gain a better understanding of individuals as a people. Social change among people and within societies arises as a result of feelings that emerge from being oppressed or trying to persist in oppressing others. While the oppressed are always angry, the oppressor remains exploitative. Given this situation in most societies of the world, there will be continual fighting, discrimination, racism, and class creation-even among members of the same society. However, we are only what society has made us; we are the creatures of our era, of our class, our culture, our gender, and place (Archer, 2000) and vice versa-people make societies. …

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