Original Research

Concepts of multifaceted social support in operational work in the lives of South African Police Service members

Masefako A. Gumani
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 40, No 2 | a1209 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v40i2.1209 | © 2014 Masefako A. Gumani | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 March 2014 | Published: 10 December 2014

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Masefako A. Gumani, Department of Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Orientation: The extensive role that social support plays in the lives of South African Police Service (SAPS) members outside of the expected work networks of professionals and colleagues should be further studied to reflect on the benefits received when handling the stressful and traumatic effects of operational work.

Research purpose: The objective of this study was to describe the concepts of multifaceted social support network systems as perceived by SAPS members in the context of the Vhembe District (South Africa) in assisting them to deal with the effects of their operational work.

Motivation for the study: There is still a call in social research to focus on the influence of different functions and sources of social support.

Research design, approach and method: A descriptive phenomenological research design was used, and 20 SAPS participants were selected through purposive sampling. Unstructured,face-to-face interviews, field notes, telephone follow-ups and diaries were used to collect data which was subsequently analysed through phenomenological explication.

Main findings: The results show that social support is not a linear process but is multifaceted,depending on specific operational settings. Furthermore, the social support network system identified is informed by the values of communal living in the Vhembe District as well as in the operational context in which the SAPS members work.

Practical/managerial implications: The SAPS should help initiate and involve, during the debriefing of operational members, types and functions of social support that are dependent on organisational and community contexts.

Contribution/value-add: This study makes a meaningful contribution to understanding that social support in the SAPS operational context is different from other contexts.


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