Ruth First Scholar (2003-04)
Owen Manda is from Daveyton, in the Gauteng province of the Republic of South Africa (near Johannesburg). He graduated from Vista University in December 2002 with a BA Honours degree in Sociology.
His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
During his undergraduate studies, Owen took part in a number of university and community projects:
- President of Vista University SRC
- Finance Officer for the National SRC
- Vista University Council, Finance & Budget Committee, and Campus Management Committee
- Research project on AIDS/HIV, with reference to attitudes and social stigma
- Representative of South African youth at two world conferences
- Deputy President of AZASCO (Azanian Student Convention) in 2001, and Acting President in 2002-03
- Community youth projects for skills development
At Durham, Owen took a taught MA in Research Methods (Sociology). His dissertation was closely related to the work he had previously been doing on AIDS issues. He wrote the following about his work:
Click here to download the presentation that Owen gave to the 2003 AGM of the Trust (Word document).
"For it is the nature of man to live in groups and only a beast is fit to live alone" (Aristotle). The nature of these groups, whether poor, wealthy, developed nations, underdeveloped nations, young people or the working class, thus becomes a concern to a sociologist (in the making), like myself.
Last year I studied a group of people living with HIV/AIDS with the aim of investigating their experiences after disclosing their status to the public, and another group, which is the community, and their attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS. The results of this study show that as the third decade of the epidemic (in Africa) progresses, the need to understand AIDS-related stigma will become greater than ever before. Increasing numbers of uninfected people will be confronted with the need to reduce their own risk of contracting HIV.
The rate of infected people in the sub-Saharan region is increasing, despite the fact that many people are knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS. Therefore, my dissertation will study why people still take risks despite being aware of the dangers - that by engaging in unsafe sex, being unfaithful to one's partner or not abstaining, one can contract HIV.
After the completion of my MA I wish to continue with my PhD and then go back to South Africa and contribute to the struggle against this epidemic, to share all the knowledge that I will get from Durham University with fellow South Africans. Since AIDS-related stigma hampers the ability of individuals and society to respond effectively to the epidemic, understanding its social and psychological underpinnings is of critical importance.
Owen returned to South Africa in 2004 to study for a PhD at Stellenbosch University, building on the research he carried out for his MA dissertation. In January 2006, he started work as a Social Scientist for the South African Medical Research Council: “I am in the unit called Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research. My work entails generating knowledge and proposing policy and other interventions that will lead to a reduction in alcohol and other drug abuse and the associated burden experienced by individuals and society.” He plans to study for his PhD on a part-time basis.
Update April 2008: “I am now working for the University of Johannesburg as a researcher in the Centre for Sociological Research and my work is linked to my PhD, which is on class formation and identity in the East Rand metal industry in post-apartheid South Africa.” Owen visited Durham in June 2008 to give a research seminar in the School of Applied Social Sciences on his current work.
ABSTRACT OF OWEN’S MA DISSERTATION
A Complex Systems Approach to Understanding HIV/AIDS in South Africa
This dissertation is drawn from the findings of a study on complex systems approach to understanding HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. It is a pilot study for a PhD research on the same topic. The study is set in the context of recent works published by Byrne (1998) and Cilliers (1998) dealing with complex systems defined as open systems which consists of multiple components that interact with their environment and these interactions are non-linear, dynamic and can be unpredictable. The study views complexity as a scientific and inductive idea which deals with immanent properties of complex systems as these develop through time.
Data for this study were secondary data from government and non-governmental institutions and international institutions such as UNDP, UNAIDS, World Bank and WHO. The first focus was to compare South Africa and Brazil intervention strategies and policy formulation and how these were implemented in these countries to battle the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic and secondly a comparison of thirty middle-income countries (South Africa and Brazil included) in the years 1997 and 2004 respectively.
Cluster analysis method was used to analyse the data and a brief discussion of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and NVIVO was also included. Cluster analysis method gives types of qualitative sets which come from an ensemble of cases, in clustering the focus is on the cases and therefore this technique is case centred and case driven. However this technique can be contrasted with the analysis of variance approach, which is a variable centred technique dealing with variation. In conclusion the study finds that HIV/AIDS epidemic in developing countries is an increasing problem that must be addressed as a matter of urgency and prevention, treatment and care must be the first priority in the battle against the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Updated July 2008 Mike Thompson