Since 1994 the number of migrants to South Africa has significantly increased and there has been a growing population of economic, female migrants in and around the country's big cities. At the same time, with the increase in migration there has been an increase in xenophobic attitudes amongst local South Africans towards migrants from other African countries which has led to violent clashes in recent years. Negative perceptions about migrants are a key issue fueling xenophobic attitudes in the country. In many cases, migration is an economic strategy taken by individuals to improve their financial well-being and has the potential to benefit both receiving and sending countries. Migrants who move to South Africa for work and income earning opportunities are often wrongly classified as being a burden to the state while their positive contributions to the country are neglected and this has the potential to fuel xenophobia. This study challenges the idea of migrants as a burden to the state by studying a particular group of women migrants in South Africa with the aim of revealing them to be positive contributors to their industry and the South African economy. The research questions are answered through an ethnographic study of the lives and economic activities of Ghanaian women migrants in the hair care industry of South Africa. The study carries important lessons for society and the government by showing the potential that immigrants have to promote development in both sending and receiving countries and the value of countering xenophobia in South Africa. On this basis, it is recommended that key strategies are undertaken to safeguard migrants and encourage community education and integration amongst local and foreign populations.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2017.