HUMANITIES > CENTRE FOR SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH (CSSR)

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Director: Professor Mike Morris

Centre Profile

The Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) is an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Cape Town dedicated to conducting and building capacity for systematic, evidence based, policy-relevant, replicable social science research in South Africa, the region, and across Africa.

The CSSR presently consists of a small Directorate and four research units: AIDS and Society Research Unit (ASRU); Democracy in Africa Research Unit (DARU); Policy Research on International Services and Manufacturing (PRISM); and Social Surveys Unit (SSU). Unit Heads report on their research activities through the CSSR Director to the Dean of Humanities. The CSSR is also assisted by an Advisory Board that meets yearly. We also work closely with UCT’s DataFirst Resource Unit, an extensive digital archive of social science databases.

Methodologically, CSSR research is empirical, but problem-driven. While we utilize both quantitative and qualitative strategies of data collection, our work is always based on systematic research designs with clear conceptualization of variables and transparent rules of operationalising variables, selecting cases and collecting and analyzing data analysis (in contrast to ad hoc fact collection or narrative description). After a reasonable period, collected data are turned into public access data sets and deposited with the DataFirst Resource Centre.

CSSR projects are usually team-oriented, bringing together multiple local and international researchers, and offering post-graduate students significant opportunities for hands-on training by involving them in all stages of projects. Research findings are presented and discussed at regular weekly seminars and published as CSSR Working Papers.

Substantively, the CSSR conducts research in the broad areas of globalization, industrialization, democratization, development, poverty and public health. SSU conducts research on a range of social dynamics, using survey data (the Cape Panel Survey, and the Cape Area Survey) and related qualitative data. DARU conducts research on a range of issues around democratization in South and Southern Africa, using public opinion data but also crating new systematic data bases on elections, legislatures and local government. ASRU conducts research on the social impacts of HIV/AIDS, including issues of parenting, disclosure, sexual behaviour and public welfare, again using both survey and qualitative data. Finally,PRISM conducts research on globalization, industrialization, innovation and the dynamics of global value chains on developing country industrial sectors.

AIDS and Society Research Unit (ASRU)

The AIDS and Society Research Unit (ASRU) supports research into the social and economic dimensions of AIDS in South and Southern Africa. Special emphasis is placed on exploring the interface between qualitative and quantitative research. Focus areas include: AIDS policy in South Africa, AIDS-stigma, sexual relationships in the age of AIDS, social and economic factors driving HIV infection, disclosure (of HIV-status to others), the interface between traditional medicine and biomedicine, the international treatment rollout, global health citizenship, the international treatment rollout, global health citizenship and leadership, AIDS treatment activism and the impact of providing antiretroviral treatment on individuals and households.

Democracy in Africa Research Unit (DARU)

DARU supports students and scholars who conduct systematic research in the following four areas: public opinion and political culture in Africa and its role in democratization and consolidation; elections and voting in Africa; the development of legislative institutions; and the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on democratization in southern Africa. DARU has also developed close working relationships with projects such as the Afrobarometer (a cross-national survey of public opinion in fifteen African countries) and the Comparative National Elections Project, which conducts post-election surveys over twenty countries across the world.

Policy Research in International Services and Manufacturing (PRISM)

PRISM provides a lens to focus research and policy work on issues of globalization and industrialization in Sub-Saharan Africa. The CSSR provides management, administrative and financial services, as well as assisting in realising its wide research remit - to interface between economics and other relevant disciplines. PRISM provides a home to a number of independent research activities, projects and programmes. The broad focus of the research activities undertaken are all concerned with issues of globalization, global value chains, industrialization paths, the role of knowledge intensive services, international competitiveness.

Social Surveys Unit (SSU)

The SSU promotes critical analysis of the methodology, ethics and results of South African social science research. The SSU seeks to integrate quantitative and qualitative research. Our core activities include the overlapping Cape Area Study and Cape Area Panel Study. The Cape Area Study comprises a series of surveys of social, economic and political aspects of life in Cape Town. The Cape Area Panel Study is an ongoing study of young people in Cape Town as they move from school into the worlds of work, unemployment, adulthood and parenthood. Linked to the panel study is an ethnographic study of childhood and adolescence in post-apartheid Cape Town. The SSU also conducts research into inequality, diversity and social policy.

 

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