Examining the Dynamics of Belonging and Alienation in Higher Education Through Photovoice

Cornell, Josephine and Kessi, Shose and Ratele, Kopano (2022) Examining the Dynamics of Belonging and Alienation in Higher Education Through Photovoice. Health Promotion Practice, 23 (2). pp. 325-330. ISSN 1552-6372

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The higher education system globally is inherently inequitable. Discriminatory practices and oppressive power dynamics are particularly prevalent in the South African higher education landscape which is characterised by a legacy of colonialism and apartheid. As a result, although students from a wide range of backgrounds are increasingly participating in higher education, many students who do not fit the dominant status quo question their belonging within these spaces. Students’ experiences of alienation within higher education can have profoundly negative physical, pyscho-social and education outcomes. However, students also display agency in negotiating the exclusionary institutional cultures within their universities and succeeding despite these experiences. Photovoice methodology can be a useful tool for critiquing and highlighting such agentic practices, and for foregrounding the voices of students. In this research brief, we reflect on two photovoice projects that sought to examine the complexity of students’ experiences of belonging and alienation in higher education in South Africa. Our findings illustrate that although students may experience alienation on campus, they may also create spaces of belonging, and ‘speak back’ to, and challenge the exclusions inherent to campus life.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1177/15248399211054779
10 September 2021Accepted
14 March 2022Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: photovoice, higher education, South Africa, students, belonging, alienation, mental health, agency, race, LGBTQIA, visual methods
Subjects: CAH00 - multidisciplinary > CAH00-00 - multidisciplinary > CAH00-00-00 - multidisciplinary
CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-05 - others in psychology
CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Psychology
Depositing User: Josephine Cornell
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2023 13:41
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2023 13:41
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14563

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