The legal end of apartheid in South Africa brought about innumerable radical changes, not least so in its implications for the identity dynamics of all citizens. Due to their parents’ and grandparents’ undeniable involvement in and benefitting from the apartheid system, white Afrikaner youth are experiencing particular challenges as they battle to renegotiate their identity as Afrikaners. Three interrelated research aims guided this case study, namely a) to explore respondents’ attitudes toward a variety of identity labels and cultural elements; b) to detect possible manifestations of a present day ‘new’ Afrikaner nationalism amongst them and c) to probe the relationship between respondents’ identification and the South African ‘brain drain’. Literature and focus group data informed the content of a comprehensive survey, which was filled out by 151 respondents from the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria. Results illustrate that conventional Afrikaner churches and the institution of the family continue to act as a 'hub of socialisation' that transfers traditional values to the youth, in so doing providing continuity between the past and present. The two-thirds of respondents who are members of conventional Afrikaner churches are more likely to identify with exclusivist, conservative ethno-cultural values. The stark juxtaposition between a radically changed national context and these respondents’ values manifests in a particular strategy to present themselves as ‘politically correct’ citizens. This strategy involves utilisation of the notion of 'culture' to downplay the centrality of racial difference in their experiences and identification. They subscribe to several discourses that are typical of ‘whiteness’, which cast whites as victims of change and discredit post-1994 redress policies. It is argued that respondents’ strong ethno-cultural identification disproves the notion of an identity crisis amongst them and underpins the finding that few respondents plan to emigrate on a permanent basis. Their active consumption of key elements of white Afrikaner culture arguably constitutes a form of twenty-first century cultural nationalism.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2013.