Authority and control in a South African Goldmine Compound

Pearson, Patrick
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The goldmine compound conforms fairly closely to what Goffman describes as the " total institution ". He defines it as "a place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life ". (Goffman, 1968 p. 11). It is the last element of his definition - that which points to the intervention of the authorities into many aspects of the inmate's daily life which is the most important for the purposes of this paper. I seek to examine three aspects of the exercise of control in the compound situation . The first part will describe the authority roles of various personnel in the compound and evaluate the usefulness of applying Gluckman's concept of the interhierarchical (or inter-calary) role position. I will argue chat only when authority and power are derived from different and conflicting sources, can a role be accurately described as being interhierarchical. The second part will look more generally at the nature of the total institution as manifested in the compound situation and the way in which this environment contributes to the effective control of the resident and subjugates the worker in his environment through assaults on his identity. The third part will seek to identify worker/inmate reaction to the compound system and show how the organization of the room serves to recreate with varying degrees of success, an identity which has been assailed by the needs of mine management.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented October 1976
Unskilled labor. South Africa, Gold mining industry. South Africa, Gold mines and mining. South Africa