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Title:Women's Domestic Power: A Study of Women's Roles in A Tunisian Town
Author(s):Auerbach, Liesa Stamm
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Abstract:The study of women's roles in the Tunisian town of Ksar-Hellal was predicated on the assumption that the women of a society have different cultural perspectives from those of men. This is particularly significant in an Islamic society, since such societies traditionally require a social separation of men's and women's activities. Since the concern of this study is to understand the lives of women, a detailed analysis of the daily activities and interests of women serves as a framework for examining women's power. Men are to some extent shadow figures in this work, just as women are in a number of other ethnographic accounts.
For the women of Ksar-Hellal, the domestic sector of the community, the family and household comprises the main sphere of interaction. While many anthropological studies have emphasized the significance of the domestic group as a social unit of primary importance, there are few detailed studies of the interactional patterns within the domestic sector. This study of Ksar-Hellal women provides insights into the operations of the domestic unit. The domestic unit is significant to women because it is an area in which they have considerable control over valued actions, resources and social relationships. The domestic unit represents a base of power for the women of this community.
While women's power in the domestic unit has frequently been hinted at in ethnographic accounts, there are few detailed analyses of the actual processes by which women exert power. The study of women's domestic power in Ksar-Hellal focuses on defining the strategies and decision-making of women in specific social situations as a means of delineating women's mechanisms of power and the ways in which this power is operationalized. This interactional framework presents an analysis of power from an individual perspective, rather than from a social organizational point of view.
The case study of women's domestic power in Ksar-Hellal illustrates the potential for women to exert influence over a wide range of community actions. Women exert economic control through the management and processing of household resources, as well as utilizing their own financial resources to influence a variety of social situations both within and outside of the household. Through their major role in socializing children, as well as managing household affairs, women have a significant influence over family relationships. The network of women's relationships in the community provides an important source of communication and acts as a mechanism for social control over individual behavior. Through their power within the household and the women's network, women in Ksar-Hellal have a significant influence over a number of community social patterns, including residence and marriage patterns and the community's occupational structure.
Issue Date:1980
Description:425 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8108442
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-14
Date Deposited:1980

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