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Title: Gender, globalisation and the growth of dowry in south India
Author: Jehan, Katherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 2714 6288
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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This research explores men and women's gendered experiences of dowry against a backdrop of socio-economic change. In recent decades, South India has seen a substantial increase in the quantum of goods and money exchanged at marriage and an adoption of the practice by more and more communities. These changes in a hitherto 'dowryless' region have occurred in tandem with the nation's period of economic reform. Drawing on data collected using ethnographic research methods in the state of Tamil Nadu, the research sets out to understand the growth in dowry through the meanings that people assign it. It asks the following key questions: if changes in the practice of dowry are occurring, how do men and women conceptualise the changes? How far do they support dowry themselves? Do they consider the present socio-economic context to mitigate, or intensify their support for dowry? By exploring these questions, it seeks to analyse the extent to which globalisation is currently redefining gender ideologies. By examining the inter-generational picture, it explores the extent to which support for dowry intersects with contemporary variables, and how it is contextualised among gendered identities. The study counters much previous neglect of male experiences and struggles, arguing that an understanding of how both men and women conceptualise dowry will further the likelihood of constructing an appropriate response to what is considered a 'social problem'. The research finds that multiple meanings of modernity and globalisation inform processes of change affecting dowry. Though marriage payments are growing in the region, men and women's support for the trend is not uniform. Ideologies surrounding marriage and dowry are subjects for negotiation, with responses to dowry ranging from increasing conservatism, to equivocation, to resistance and protest. The study deploys a framework for understanding these diverse perspectives, arguing that such diversity offers hope for a problem proven unresponsive to intervention. Nevertheless, the research suggests that globalisation has transformed rather than eroded articulations of patriarchy. Changes in social and material conditions have yet to challenge the normative patriarchal order, and may, in some instances, embed and even amplify them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available