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The boundaries of artisanal work and occupations, and its intersections with inequality

31 May 2016
12:30 - 13:30

Dr Angelique Wildschut
Education and Skills Development research programme (HSRC)
Ms Tamlynne Meyer
Education and Skills Development research programme (HSRC)

Date:      31 May 2016 
Time:     12:30  – 13:30
Venue:    VCRs, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban

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The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

Improving the access of previously marginalised groups – particularly women, African and youths – to skilled occupations is seen as vital to growing our economy and making strides to a labour market characterised by less inequality. Government prioritisation of artisan development in recent times has led to sizeable increases in registrations and completions by individuals from such vulnerable groups. Employment figures are not far from being racially representative. The under-representation of Africans and over-representation of coloureds in artisanal employment persists as a challenge, but the extent of both over and under representation has narrowed. Gender trends are most concerning as the extent of women’s under-representation does not only persist, but it has strengthened over the years. Although this quantitative picture highlights successes and points to inefficiencies, it does little to reveal the full story of why particular inequalities in artisanal skilling and employment persist and even intensify. What is it about artisanal occupations that make them a more acceptable route for men or whites? In other words, how are people excluded and included in relation to artisanal work and occupations? Essentially the question is – how does occupational closure take place?

The evidence from an investigation into three artisanal trades in South Africa offers some insights. Research focused on the ways in which the boundaries of artisanal work and occupations are changing in present work contexts. In line with the assertions of Bonnin & Ruggunan (2015), the data revealed a storyline  of how skilled occupations continue to monopolise a segment of the labour market for their members, and how this intersects with racial, gender and language exclusivity and dominance. The data and findings confirm the importance of understanding occupational culture and how closure mechanisms act, as these intervene to constrain opportunities for women, blacks and youth to enter skilled occupations. These are key processes to study and unlock, towards transforming inequality in artisanal occupations in a meaningful way.

The seminar may be attended in Pretoria, Cape Town or Durban

Kindly RSVP by 30 May2016

Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Jean Witten, Tel (021) 4668004,  Fax (021) 461 0299, or or Estelle Krishnan or Tel: 021 4668070

Durban :  The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001 , Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or or Hlengiwe Zulu at e-mail; Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street,

Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: