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

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  • Gram, Lu
  • Skordis-Worrall, Jolene
  • Mannell, Jenevieve
  • Manandhar, Dharma S.
  • Saville, Naomi
  • Morrison, Joanna

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 in-laws. 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gram, Lu & Skordis-Worrall, Jolene & Mannell, Jenevieve & Manandhar, Dharma S. & Saville, Naomi & Morrison, Joanna, 2018. "Revisiting the patriarchal bargain: The intergenerational power dynamics of household money management in rural Nepal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 193-204.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:112:y:2018:i:c:p:193-204
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.08.002
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    2. Asadullah, M. Niaz & Mansoor, Nazia & Randazzo, Teresa & Wahhaj, Zaki, 2021. "Is son preference disappearing from Bangladesh?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
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    4. Ambler, Kate & Doss, Cheryl & Kieran, Caitlin & Passarelli, Simone, 2022. "Spousal concordance in joint and separate households: Survey evidence from Nepal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 151(C).
    5. Lnu,Anukriti & Herrera-Almanza,Catalina & Karra,Mahesh Venkat, 2022. "Bring a Friend : Strengthening Women’s Social Networks and Reproductive Autonomy in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 10107, The World Bank.
    6. Balayar, Ramesh & Mazur, Robert, 2021. "Women’s decision-making roles in vegetable production, marketing and income utilization in Nepal’s hills communities," World Development Perspectives, Elsevier, vol. 21(C).
    7. Harris-Fry, Helen & Saville, Naomi M. & Paudel, Puskar & Manandhar, Dharma S. & Cortina-Borja, Mario & Skordis, Jolene, 2022. "Relative power: Explaining the effects of food and cash transfers on allocative behaviour in rural Nepalese households," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 154(C).
    8. S Anukriti & Catalina Herrera-Almanza & Mahesh Karra & Praveen Kumar Pathak, 2020. "Curse of the Mummy-ji: The Influence of Mothers-in-Law on Women in India," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-337, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    9. Kiran Raj Awasthi & Jonine Jancey & Archie C. A. Clements & Rohit Kumar Sah & Madan Prasad Koirala & Binaya Chalise & Justine E. Leavy, 2022. "Traditional Beliefs, Practices, and Migration: A Risk to Malaria Transmission in Rural Nepal," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(24), pages 1-11, December.

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