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Title:Bargaining relationships among spouses in urban intermarriages in India: a qualitative exploration of the intersections of gender, ethnicity, caste and class
Author(s):Ghosh, Sonali
Director of Research:Zerai, Assata
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Zerai, Assata
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Jung, Moon-Kie; Allendorf, Keera; Kenney, Catherine T.
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Urban Intermarriages
Abstract:This work is a qualitative study that explores how spouses in urban intermarriages in India negotiate for resources within the household as they navigate their way through varying norms that come with the different class, castes and ethnicities that they draw from. It examines negotiation with specific reference to (i) wedding expenses and wedding rituals (ii) division of labor within the household (iii) financial decision-making) (iv) maintenance and transmission of language and diet and (v) residential pattern. The paradigm of intersectionality which sees gender, class, race and other social categories as inextricably linked forms the backbone of the approach as it explores how gender, caste, class and ethnicity emerge and submerge in different contexts of the bargaining process for the couples in the study. In doing so it reveals how women in the study, exercise their agency in the intersection of these manifold and often ambiguous structures that leave the meanings of rules and norms of these multiple structures open for interpretation. It draws an agency continuum based on the innovation that the actors display in their exercise of choice. At one end is circumscribed agency in which choices are made within the extant possibilities contained in the multiple structures, without creation of new rules or norms. At the other end is transformative agency wherein new norms are created by transposing existing rules to new structural contexts thereby creating new parameters of choice that were hitherto not present. In between lies exercise of choice that does not fit neatly in either category. The study brings to attention how individual character traits steer choices within the compass of multiple structures. It establishes a continuum where at one end are women who most successfully assert agency and negotiate for resources. They associate themselves with assertive character traits like being “confident” or “strong willed”. At the extreme end are women least successful in negotiation that associates themselves with character traits like “being too soft”. Most women fall in the middle that have reasonable if not excessive success in asserting agency in negotiating within their marriages. They associate themselves with more temperate character traits like “calm” or “not too pushy”. The fieldwork was conducted in New Delhi, India between December 2007 and February 2009, and the work in the field spanned a period of twelve months that included recruitment and data collection. Case studies of sixteen couples in intermarriages are used as analytical data for the study.
Issue Date:2013-02-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Sonali Ghosh
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-02-03
Date Deposited:2012-12

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