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J Community Appl Soc Psychol. 2016 Jul-Aug;26(4):323-339. doi: 10.1002/casp.2265. Epub 2015 Dec 11.

Implications of Teacher Life-Work Histories for Conceptualisations of 'Care': Narratives from Rural Zimbabwe.

Journal of community & applied social psychology

Clare Coultas, Elena Broaddus, Catherine Campbell, Louise Andersen, Alice Mutsikiwa, Claud Madanhire, Connie Nyamukapa, Simon Gregson


  1. London School of Economics and Political Science Department of Social Psychology St Clement's Building, Houghton Street London WC2A 2AE United Kingdom.
  2. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Department of International Health 615 N. Wolfe Street Baltimore Maryland United States.
  3. Biomedical Training and Research Institute No. 10 Seagrave Road Avondale Harare Zimbabwe.
  4. Biomedical Training and Research Institute No. 10 Seagrave Road Avondale Harare Zimbabwe; Imperial College School of Public Health Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology Norfolk Place London W2 1PG United Kingdom.

PMID: 27499602 PMCID: PMC4950062 DOI: 10.1002/casp.2265


Schools are increasingly seen as key sites for support to HIV-affected and other vulnerable children, and teachers are assigned the critical role of identifying and providing psychosocial support. Drawing on the life-work history narratives of 12 teachers in Zimbabwe, this paper explores the psychosocial processes underpinning teachers' conceptualisations of these caring roles. The influence of prolonged adversity, formative relationships, and broader patterns of social and institutional change in teacher identity formation processes speak to the complex and embodied nature of understandings of 'care'. In such extreme settings teachers prioritise the material and disciplinary aspects of 'care' that they see as essential for supporting children to overcome hardship. This focus not only means that emotional support as envisaged in international policy is commonly overlooked, but also exposes a wider ideological clash about childrearing. This tension together with an overall ambivalence surrounding teacher identities puts further strain on teacher-student relationships. We propose the current trainings on providing emotional support are insufficient and that more active focus needs to be directed at support to teachers in relation with their students. © 2015 The Authors.

Keywords: HIV‐affected learners; Zimbabwe; care; narrative; teacher role


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