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Conjugality as Social Change: A Zimbabwean Case


  • Cecile Jackson


Understanding intrahousehold relations between spouses is central to understanding gendered wellbeing in developing countries, and therefore has engaged the attentions of economists, anthropologists, political theorists and interdisciplinary development studies. In all these fields contractualism in conceptualising conjugality and intrahousehold relations is ubiquitous, yet it implies an overly static and compelling structuralist logic, which this article questions. A better understanding of agency and change, in relation to marriage, matters for both the conceptualisation of intrahousehold relations, and for a range of policy initiatives, for example gender equity, or indeed HIV/AIDS, where the ability of women to instigate change in conjugality and sexual cultures is significant. This article makes no claim to represent contemporary Shona gender relations in Zimbabwe, but offers a temporal analysis of changing conjugality in south-central Zimbabwe from the colonial period into the late 1980s 1 to critique the theoretical stance of contractual approaches, through revealing the ways in which marriage has been reformulated through women's agency.

Suggested Citation

  • Cecile Jackson, 2012. "Conjugality as Social Change: A Zimbabwean Case," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(1), pages 41-54, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:48:y:2012:i:1:p:41-54
    DOI: 10.1080/00220388.2011.629649

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Morduch, Jonathan J. & Stern, Hal S., 1997. "Using mixture models to detect sex bias in health outcomes in Bangladesh," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 259-276, March.
    2. Rozana Himaz, 2008. "Intrahousehold Allocation of Education Expenditure and Returns to Education: The Case of Sri Lanka," Economics Series Working Papers 393, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    3. John Gibson & Scott Rozelle, 2004. "Is it Better to be a Boy? A Disaggregated Outlay Equivalent Analysis of Gender Bias in Papua New Guinea," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(4), pages 115-136.
    4. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, 2007. "The progress of school education in India," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 168-195, Summer.
    5. Gong, X. & van Soest, A.H.O. & Zhang, P., 2000. "Sexual Bias and Household Consumption : A Semiparametic Analysis of Engel curves in Rural China," Discussion Paper 2000-45, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    6. Messer, Ellen, 1997. "Intra-household allocation of food and health care: Current findings and understandings--Introduction," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(11), pages 1675-1684, June.
    7. Sonia Bhalotra & Cliff Attfield, 1998. "Intrahousehold resource allocation in rural Pakistan: a semiparametric analysis," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(5), pages 463-480.
    8. Subramanian, S. & Deaton, A., 1990. "Gender Effects In Indian Consumption Patterns," Papers 147, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
    9. John Gibson, 1997. "Testing for boy-girl discrimination with household expenditure data: results for Papua New Guinea," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(10), pages 643-646.
    10. Monazza Aslam & Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, 2008. "Gender and household education expenditure in Pakistan," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(20), pages 2573-2591.
    11. Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi, 2005. "Where Has All the Bias Gone? Detecting Gender Bias in the Intrahousehold Allocation of Educational Expenditure," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(2), pages 409-451, January.
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