The present dissertation explores the Congolese immigrant workers‟ meanings, their labour migration and their transnationalism in Pretoria through the perspective of south-south social transformation. It argues that this migration is partly an outcome and effect of various social transformations that have been occurring in Southern Africa since the end of cold war in the era of globalisation and age of mass migration. The study draws on Castles‟ middle range theory and the comprehensive sociology of Max Weber.
This dissertation makes use of qualitative method, based on ethnography, and corresponding techniques such as interviews.
The study shows that what drives Congolese labour migration to Pretoria are economic (wage differential or cost benefit), political issues (wars, violence against human rights, freedom of speech), cultural (the Congolese mythology of migration) and psychological reasons (prestige). These migration processes and patterns are also determined by migrants‟ social class position in the DRC. The latter to a large extent determines the nature and status of their employment in Pretoria. In addition, findings demonstrate that a number of structural constraints and features of Congolese qualifications, skills, and even culture contribute to Congolese immigrants negative performances in the South African labour market. Faced with numerous barriers to professional incorporation, Congolese migrants resort to any legal or illegal means to bypass these barriers. It is revealed that the Congolese conception of social and occupational mobility is mostly understood in terms of economic or income mobility. This dovetails with the socially constructed meanings that Congolese workers attach to their work.
Concerning their transnational activities, research participants are shown to be involved in political, economic and socio-cultural activities. Most of their activities are nationally-oriented. Nevertheless, the weight of the tense political situation has an influence on their transnational activities and Congolese culture and/or homeland politics leads to their economic transnationalism. For these reasons, practices of remitting are connected with transnational political activities and culture. Despite the extensive contacts „back home‟ socio-cultural activities of the Congolese in Pretoria are marked by cultural hybridization between Congolese migrants and South Africans.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2014.