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Revisiting the patriarchal bargain: The intergenerational power dynamics of household money management in rural Nepal

Gram, LZ; Skordis-Worrall, J; Mannell, J; Manandhar, D; Saville, N; Morrison, J; (2018) Revisiting the patriarchal bargain: The intergenerational power dynamics of household money management in rural Nepal. World Development , 112 pp. 193-204. 10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.08.002. Green open access

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Abstract

Although power struggles between daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law in the South Asian household remain an enduring theme of feminist scholarship, current policy discourse on ‘women’s economic empowerment’ in the Global South tends to focus on married women’s power over their husband; this neglects intergenerational power dynamics. The aim of this study was to describe and analyze the processes involved in young, married women’s negotiations of control over cash inside the extended household in a contemporary rural Nepali setting. We conducted a grounded theory study of 42 households from the Plains of Nepal. Our study uncovered multiple ways in which junior wives and husbands in the extended household became secret allies in seeking financial autonomy from the rule of the mother-in-law to the wife. This included secretly saving up for a household separation from the inlaws. We argue these secret financial strategies constitute a means for junior couples to renegotiate the terms of Kandiyoti’s (1988) ‘patriarchal bargain’ wherein junior wives traditionally had to accept subservience to their husband and mother-in-law in exchange for economic security and eventual authority over their own daughters-in-law. Researchers, activists and policy-makers concerned with women’s economic empowerment in comparable contexts should consider the impact of intergenerational power relations on women’s control over cash.

Type: Article
Title: Revisiting the patriarchal bargain: The intergenerational power dynamics of household money management in rural Nepal
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.08.002
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.08.002
Language: English
Additional information: © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Keywords: Empowerment, Power, Agency, Intergenerational relations, Household finances, Money management
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10054970
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