Can a Racist Society Produce and Sustain Just and Healthy Interracial Relationships? A Few South African Case Studies

E.M. Mojapelo-Batka


: In this study the experiences, perceptions and challenges of being in a mixed-race relationship (M-R) are explored against the backdrop of previous South African pieces of legislation meant to keep the various race groups apart. The study is located within a conceptual framework predominantly informed by a constructivist approach, including some tenets from the social constructionist approach. For the purposes of this study, six cases of mixed-race couples consisting of black and white partners only were recruited through snowball sampling. The results of the study indicate that individuals found their involvement in M-R relationships to be a positive experience, and thus resulting in a positive attitude change and a sense of personal growth. However, M-R couples and their extended families experienced cognitive dissonance which required them to discard their previously internalised racial stereotypes. To do this, strategies such as cognitive differentiation, re-categorization and de-categorization were used. This enabled the couples and their families to attempt the shift toward non-racial socially constructed categories. Most of the challenges of being in M-R relationships were experienced on both the interpersonal and the inter-group levels. The losses, disadvantages, challenges, concerns and pains experienced by M-R couples were mainly related to family and social disapproval as well as general family and social efforts aimed at discouraging race mixing.


Interracial, relationships, social category, social contact, racial stereotypes and attitudes

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ISSN: 1929-4409