Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Social Work

First Advisor

Jeffrey M. Jenson

Second Advisor

Timothy Sisk

Third Advisor

James Herbert Williams

Fourth Advisor

Nicole Nicotera


Mixed methods, Narrative, Positive youth development, Postcolonial theory, South Africa, Township


South African Black township youth encounter immense risks within their environment, with little opportunity for perceived success. The Langa Township, the oldest established segregated community in Cape Town, South Africa, is enveloped in massive unemployment rates, substantial poverty, and violent gangsterism. Extensive literature exists in North America on the relationship between positive youth development (PYD) and successful outcomes for young individuals, although there is limited research examining the framework in an international context. Due to historical oppression forced on South African youth, postcolonial theory provides a critical foundational component to PYD in the study. This mixed methods study examined the lived experiences of Langa youth, while assessing baseline data through four surveys measuring PYD, sense of coherence, resiliency, and self-efficacy. Seventy-three youth completed the surveys and fifty young individuals participated in individual interviews and focus groups. Bivariate analyses revealed few differences across demographic variables. Qualitative analyses captured four key themes that emerged from the data: 1) redefining protective factors, 2) the impact of generational trauma, 3) the legacy of apartheid and oppression, and 4) the disappearance of a traditional collective community. Mixed methods analyses demonstrated divergent findings across the two strands of data, indicating a potential gap in accurately measuring the constructs of the study. Langa youth are becoming increasingly despondent over their lived circumstances, and the findings from this study have the potential to develop a greater awareness to the social injustices impacting these young individuals. Implications of findings, limitations of the study, and directions for future research are discussed. South African township youth are growing increasingly restless with their generational oppressive circumstances, and the nation must respond by providing sustainable and equitable support to this vulnerable population.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Jason St. Mary


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

215 p.


Social work, South African studies