Your Move (Mainstreaming Clues For The Marginalized Book 33)

Young people, education, and sustainable development
Free download. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can download and read online Your Move (Mainstreaming Clues For The Marginalized Book 33) file PDF Book only if you are registered here. And also you can download or read online all Book PDF file that related with Your Move (Mainstreaming Clues For The Marginalized Book 33) book. Happy reading Your Move (Mainstreaming Clues For The Marginalized Book 33) Bookeveryone. Download file Free Book PDF Your Move (Mainstreaming Clues For The Marginalized Book 33) at Complete PDF Library. This Book have some digital formats such us :paperbook, ebook, kindle, epub, fb2 and another formats. Here is The CompletePDF Book Library. It's free to register here to get Book file PDF Your Move (Mainstreaming Clues For The Marginalized Book 33) Pocket Guide. Holistic self-spirituality takes a variety of social forms, ranging from individual reading and practice, to one-to-one encounters such as Reiki, and explicitly spiritual forms of homeopathy and aromatherapy to group meetings such as Yoga, Buddhism, Greenspirit , and larger workshops and festivals.

Critical Engagements in Feminist Theory and Practice

It is increasingly incorporated into workplace trainings, nursing and education. Self-spiritualities address this condition by encouraging the construction of new modes of selfhood in which identity is not dictated by social position and expectation, but discovered from within. Although this project of selfhood may have socially radical implications see below , it is more likely to render women successful in coping with the contradictions and costs of the unequal distribution of power and unpaid care work in contemporary western societies than in changing in these conditions.

Although not a straightforwardly religious group, this certainly has elements of a religion. Religion which is counter-cultural with regard to gender is not only marginal to the existing gender order, but actively opposes it and strives to change it and forge alternatives. Here sacred power becomes a central resource in the attempt to establish more equal distributions of power between the sexes. One of the most influential and most studied contemporary examples of such counter-cultural religion is what is broadly referred to as the goddess feminist movement.

Although goddess feminism falls into the broad category of subjective-life spirituality discussed above, and into the narrower sub-category of neo-paganism, it differs from much holistic self-spirituality by virtue of its greater emphasis on ritual practice and the more cohesive communities which develop around such practice, and it qualifies neo-paganism through its concentration on the divine feminine and its commitment to female empowerment. The single most influential figure in goddess feminism is the writer, activist and witch Starhawk, whose most influential book remains The Spiral Dance.

As Salomonsen argues, both this eminently practical guide to the living of a divinely-empowered life and its author are best understood in relation to the Reclaiming community of witches in San Francisco, of which Starhawk is a founding member. Although there are male members of the movement, women dominate. There is an explicit commitment not merely to gender equality but to female empowerment.

Ritual practice is central to all these aims. Both rituals and religious commitment are focused not around transcendent forms of masculinity, but either around personal lives and journeys, or around nature and natural cycles. The effect is not to subordinate the female self to an overarching order of male-defined dogma, organisation and divinity, but to empower in relation to others and to sacred nature. Utopian goddess feminists may make experiments in alternative living, including establishing new eco-communities, and often play an active part in political protest — as in the protests against the siting of a nuclear power plant at Diabolo Canyon in California in which gave rise to the Reclaiming community, or at the Greenham Common airbase in England in , in protest against nuclear weaponry.

Rather than simply being evacuated from the modern context, religion is relocated. As both literary critics and historians have documented Douglas, ; Welter, ; Ginzberg, , Christianity becomes increasingly feminized during the course of the nineteenth century in many north American and European societies, not only in terms of its teachings, imagery and gender ideology, but also in terms of its most active constituency. The much-heralded male crisis of faith in the Victorian era therefore takes place alongside an upsurge of female piety, with the result that the nineteenth century became not the least but probably the most Christian century of all time, not only in terms of cultural influence but also in terms of churchgoing.

Viewed in terms of the theoretical framework offered above, Christianity succeeds both as a consolidating and tactical religion. And it offers tactical means for some women to negotiate not only greater power and protection, but routes into civic and public life see above. Precisely because religion became so implicated within the gender order of industrial modernity, however, it would be extremely vulnerable to challenges and changes to this order. As Brown argues, the fact that femininity had become so closely identified with a particular brand of nineteenth-century piety meant that the decline of the former led inevitably to the decline of the latter.

Christian femininity was challenged by a range of factors, not least by feminist action and sentiment from the late nineteenth century onwards. Such growth was short-lived, however, and quickly followed by the onset of a phase of decline steeper than that which had preceded. This late modern phase of secularization set in during the s and has continued to the present day in most European societies, in Canada, and, to a lesser extent, in the USA Heelas and Woodhead, Although classical theories of secularization are unable to explain the speeding up of secularization after the s, the gendered perspective proposed here would expect the far-reaching shifts in gender relations at the time to have exactly such a momentous impact on a religion so closely identified with the gender order of industrial society.

Such shifts include not only the rise of a new feminist agenda committed to equality between the sexes, but — above all — a combination of political, social and economic changes which lead to women entering the paid workforce in ever-increasing numbers Wharton, The simplest way of expressing the consequences for religion would be to say that women enter the iron cage around a century later than men, but when they do so the corrosive effect on their commitment to religion is similar.

Not only do women tend to cluster in different occupations than men, including the caring professions, and to be more likely than men to work part-time, they also continue to carry out far more unpaid domestic care work than men. The consequences for religion, as illustrated by the studies discussed earlier in this article, are complex. However, insofar as the latter now break from the paternalistic modes of masculinity which dominated the era of paternalistic state and industrial enterprise, and which fitted neatly with church-endorsed modes of modern family life, this has also been corrosive of Christian commitment.

This article has attempted to show how a move away from gender-blindness profoundly affects the way in which we think about religion and its relation to the social order, so much so that it impacts upon even the most foundational theories within the Sociology of Religion, namely theories of secularization.

Although enshrined in the very name of the discipline, the concept of religion has received less critical examination in the Sociology of Religion than in Religious Studies, Psychology of Religion and Anthropology. The tendency to render male practice normative in understandings of what counts as religious is evident in deep sociological assumptions about what counts as sacred, as ritual, as scripture, as belief, as religious practice, as a religious professional, a religious organisation, and so on. Such a conclusion is not surprising, given the widespread gender division of labour which leaves women in most societies with greater responsibility than men for bodily and emotional care, for the maintenance of affective and kin relationships, and for domestic concerns in general.

What is more surprising is the way in which activities whose religious significance has previously been overlooked start to appear in a new light once a gender-critical perspective is applied Nason-Clark and Neitz, This article discusses a selection of recent studies which have put gender onto the agenda of the Sociology of Religion. Such studies highlight some of the ways in which gender affects religious practice and significance, and raise awareness of the close and often constitutive relations between religion and gender.

Taking the latter realisation as its starting point, the article proposes a theoretical approach to the sociological study of religion and gender which distinguishes the main ways in which religion may locate itself in relation to a prevailing gender order. This approach draws attention to the importance of power in the study of religion and in society, for it reminds us that both religion and gender are centrally implicated in unequal distributions of power, and that their interplays serve and seek to reinforce existing distributions of power or to change them — in various ways and by various means.

Although the sociological study of religion has been slow to abandon its gender-blindness, the studies considered here suggest that this situation is beginning to change. The magnitude of the change should not be exaggerated; at the present time one is likely to find one member of a faculty working on gender, one paper in an edited collection dedicated to the topic, one stream on gender at a conference on the Sociology of Religion, and so on. The belief that attention to gender can and should inform and enrich all study of religion is not yet firmly established.

Changes in the academy may continue to effect change, not only as gender becomes entrenched in bordering fields, but as the gender balance begins to shift within the academic study of religion. Thompson and Remmes, These anonymous data allow us to improve your online experience. If you continue browsing our web site you accept to receive cookies from us.

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About Dossiers Help French Edition. Log in Create an account. All articles English full-text articles. Shortcuts Abstract Outline Citation export Journal issue. Full text in French. Email alert Your alert request has been correctly taken into account. Previous article Pages 33 - 54 Next article. Starting Points for a Theory of Gender and Religion 4 A theoretical account of the relations between religion and gender requires an acknowledgement that both serve to represent, embody and distribute power within society, plus an account of how these two systems of distribution may relate to one another.

Theorising Religion and Gender 7 Once power is highlighted, it is easy to see how religion and gender can and do interact. Argyle , Michael and Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi The Social Psychology of Religion. London: Routledge. Banks , Olive Becoming a Feminist. Sussex: Wheatsheaf Books. Bendroth , Margaret L. Fundamentalism and Gender: to the Present. New Haven: Yale University Press. Berger , Helen A. Berger , Peter L. The Sacred Canopy. Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion.

Garden City, New York: Doubleday. Bourdieu , Pierre Masculine Domination. Cambridge: Polity. Brasher , Brenda Godly Women. Fundamentalism and Female Power. Brown , Callum The Death of Christian Britain. Understanding Secularisation, London: New York: Routledge. Bynum , Caroline Walker Holy Feast and Holy Fast. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Fragmentation and Redemption. New York: Zone Books. Chambers , Paul Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Clark-King , Ellen Theology by Heart. Women, the Church and God. Peterborough: Epworth. Connell , R. Daly , Mary The Metaethics of Radical Feminism.


Davidman , Lynn Tradition in a Rootless World. Women Turn to Orthodox Judaism. Davidoff , Leonore and Hall , Catherine Family Fortunes. Men and Women of the English Middle Class, Day , Abby Journal of Contemporary Religion. DeBerg , Betty A. Minneapolis: Fortress. Douglas , Anne The Feminization of American Culture. New York: Knopf.

Dworkin , Andrea Ehrenreich , Barbara The Hearts of Men. American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment. London: Pluto. Elm , Susannah Frances , Leslie Religion 27 1 : Ginzberg , Lori Women and the Work of Benevolence. Griffith , R. Heelas , Paul and Linda Woodhead The Spiritual Revolution. Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality. Oxford: Blackwell. Houtman , Dick and Aupers , Stef Aldershot: Ashgate.

Ingelhart , Ronald and Pippa Norris Rising Tide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jacobs , Janet Jenkins , Tim Religion in English Everyday Life. An Ethnographic Approach. New York: Berghahn. Kandiyoti , Deniz Gender and Society 2 September : Kimmel , Michael S. Messner Boston: Allyn and Bacon. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Your Move (Mainstreaming Clues For The Marginalized Book 33) eBook: Michelle Birdsong: Kindle Store. Re:your move mainstreaming clues for the marginalized book How Much Evidence Do You Need The Wisdom of The Blogging Grandma Mainstreaming.

Martin , Bernice In Paul Heelas ed. McGuire , Meredith B. Ritual Healing in Suburban America. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. Greil and T. Morgan , Sue Mumm , Susan London: Leicester University Press. We need to avoid the "objectivis" stance that attempts to make the researcher's cultural beliefs and practices invisible while simultaneously skewering the research objects, beliefs and practices to the display board.

Only in this way can we hope to produce understandings and explanations which are free or, at least, more free of distortion from the unexamined beliefs and behaviors of social scientists themselves. Another way to put this point is that the beliefs and behaviors of the researcher are part of the empirical evidence for or against the claims advanced in the results of research.

This evidence too must be open to critical scrutiny no less than what is traditionally defined as relevant evidence. Introducing this "subjective" element into the analysis in fact increases the objectivity of the research and decreases the "objectivism" which hides this kind of evidence from the public. This kind of relationship between the researcher and the object of research is usually discussed under the heading of the "reflexivity of social science.

Feminists have proposed various theories to explain their experiences on the basis of differences in their class, race, and culture. Substantial discourse among feminists has focused on these various theories. The variety of approaches within feminist theory reflect, on the one hand, divergent perceptions, and on the other, different social and historical locations in which feminists exist. Basic concepts which are abstract and function as tools of analysis e.

Intermediate level concepts such as patriarchy, mode of production, etc. Historically specific analysis of a concrete social phenomenon e. Chhachhi had argued that at the first level of basic conceptual analysis that of basic concepts , little disagreement occurs between black and white feminists who share similar approaches.

However, she noted that black-Third World feminists have encouraged an important sensitivity to the need for historically specific research at levels 2 and 3 those of intermediate-level concepts and historically specific analyses. As Baksh-Soodeen remarked,. Let us examine how women from different social contexts might have divergent perceptions and explanations of the same phenomenon. In this activity, we consider the phenomenon of poverty — Why are people poor?

State the assumptions you think the following women would have about this question:. Based on the assumptions you have identified, what explanation would each women likely give for poverty? How do you account for these commonalities or differences? The differences in the explanations you identify are due to the fact that each of the individuals considered in the above exercise occupies a unique position, role, and status in society.

These positions are usually unequal. Some women exercise greater authority and power than others. As a result, their assumptions and interpretations are more valued than those of others with less authority and power. In your opinion, which of these four categories of women would have the most, the least power? Give reasons for your choice. Hilary Rose's comments in Box 5 illustrate how theoretical positions can also be used to exert power and influence over the lives of women.

The recrudescence of biological determinism during the seventies was committed to the renaturalisation of women; to an insistence that, if not anatomy then evolution, X chromosomes, or hormones were destiny; and to the inevitability of patriarchy. Such views fed upon the work of IQ advocates, whose views had become an important location for social and political struggle around issues of race and class.

Within the U. Despite resistance by the Welfare Rights Movement, scientific racism helped justify cutting welfare benefits of poor — primarily black — women and their children, thus enabling more resources to be committed to the Vietnam War. In Britain, IQ theory was extensively cited by the racist campaign for immigrant restriction and fed racist sentiment that genetic inferiority explained high levels of unemployment and thence excessive demands on the welfare system by black people.

The critical counter attack mounted by anti-racists helped prevent the new scientific racism spreading unchallenged. In the prevailing political climate, the relationship between biological determinists — especially in the guise of the new sociobiology — and the New Right was a love match. In Britain, a New Right government happily seized on biological determinism as a scientific prop to their plan to restore women to their natural place, which at that point was not in the labour market.

By the mid-eighties the view changed and part-time women's work became the ideal solution to achieve unpaid labour at home and cheap labour in employment. From then on we heard little about women's natural market place. No one put the government's view in the early s more succinctly than the Secretary of State for Social Service, Patrick Jenkins, in a television interview on working mothers: "Quite frankly, I don't think mothers have the same right to work as fathers.

If the Lord had intended us to have equal rights, he wouldn't have created men and women. These are biological facts, young children do depend on their mothers. While it was perhaps overkill to draw on both creationism and biology to make his point, in the political rhetoric of government ministers and other New Right ideologues, the old enthusiasm for biological determinism was given fresh vigour by the fashionable new sociobiology. This at the height of the struggle of the feminist movement to bring women out of nature into culture, a host of greater or lesser socio-biologists, their media supporters and new Right politicians joined eagerly in the cultural and political effort to return them whence they came.

Read the case study of women's work in the Philippines that follows Case Study 1 and then answer these questions:. What factual information about women's work in the Philippines can you extract from this case study? What principles about women's work in the Philippines emerge from these facts? Do these principles coincide with those obtaining in your own society? Have the facts in the case study caused you to change your assumptions about women's work? Based on the data and your own experience, what explanation or theory would you develop of women's work?

In the mids, Gelia Castillo noted that about 60 percent of the women in the rural areas of the Philippines were engaged in agriculture or related activities, such as fishing, an increase from the figure of In roughly two decades from to , the proportion of all Filipinos in agricultural and related activities decreased from about 59 to 55 percent, and the proportion of all women and girls over ten years old decreased slightly more from It is also possible that farm women were counted differently in the s, if, as may people contend, agricultural women are generally underenumerated, the s figures could reflect greater accuracy Castillo did not address this issue in her study.

Of these agricultural women, the vast majority are crop workers in rice and com farming, and the burden of the women's work is in non-mechanized tasks such as weeding and transplanting. These are activities that can be done in a relatively short span of time, so they are compatible with the major household duties for which the women are also responsible.

The kind of work Filipinas do helps to explain why there are substantial seasonal variations in the agricultural employment of women. Castillo notes, for instance, that the. A detailed study of time allocation in rural households in Laguna, a province of the Philippines, showed that mothers were less involved in agricultural activities than either fathers or children. On the average, the women in the sample spent slightly over one hour a day on pre-and post-harvest activities, vegetable production, livestock raising, and the like — men and children spent well over three hours a day on these same activities — but the 5 percent of the women in the sample who reported that their primary occupation was farming averaged about three and one-third hours a day on farming alone.

Overall, farming and non-farming women in this rural area spent an additional seven and one-half hours on household work or home production. As in most countries, rural women are among the most economically disadvantaged people in Filipino society. There are more unpaid family workers among women than among men, and almost 90 percent of all male unpaid workers in were in the rural areas and engaged in agricultural work.

Despite this general condition, however, both rural and urban Filipinas are viewed by a number of scholars as having considerable status and power compared to women in other Asian countries, and Filipina influence extends to important decision-making roles in agricultural matters. Justin Green, for example, noted that women are better educated than men, and he has also argued that women have a good deal of behind-the-scenes or privately exercised power.

People who think that the traditional method of reckoning kinship and the prevalence of bride price or dowry are indicators of male-female status might note that historically, Filipinos have traced kinship through both parents and bride price has been common whereas dowry prevails in India. For rural Filipino women, a practical consequence of this relative equity is that the sexual division of labor is not as rigid as in many societies. Women can handle a plow if necessary, and a husband will do the cooking if his wife is away or do the laundry if his wife has just delivered a child.

The theorizing process both uses and produces knowledge. Androcentric theories generate knowledge that embodies the assumptions of these theories and ignores the experiences and perspectives of women. One of the tenets of feminist theorizing is that knowledge should be formulated from a broader base of experience. Thus, a new, more comprehensive, more all-encompassing knowledge is built up through feminist theorizing.

Such theorizing seeks to provide a more complete representation of women's realities. As Sandra Harding expressed it,. Knowledge is supposed to be based on experience, and the reason the feminist claims can turn out to be scientifically preferable is that they originate in, and are tested against, a more complete and less distorting kind of social experience.

Women's experiences, informed by feminist theory, provide a potential grounding for more complete and less distorted knowledge claims than do men's. Harding's analysis represents a feminist-standpoint theoretical approach. Like others, feminist-standpoint theorists have their own assumptions. They assume there is an objective reality that can be made better if women's experiences and knowledges are added to mainstream or androcentric epistemologies.

Postmodernist-feminist theorizing supports the investigation of women's experiences and knowledges as a basis for creating new feminist-informed knowledges. This approach differs from feminist-standpoint theorizing in several ways. Postmodernist-feminist theorists do not assume there is a complete, coherent reality to which women's experiences can be added; rather, they assume there are multiple realities and experiences.

Postmodernist-feminist theorists see these experiences and their influence on the generation of knowledge as fluid, contingent, diverse, and historically and culturally specific. They do not argue that feminist claims are scientifically preferable, as they are more sceptical about the faith placed in rationality, objectivity, and science.

However, they support the position that knowledge claims should be formulated from a broader base of experience and should recognize that women's experiences will differ across race, class, culture, and sexual orientation. Thus, there are diverse feminist theoretical approaches. Although they converge on the core issue of women's subordination, they differ in their assumptions about the causes or sources of that subordination. These differences reflect the richness of women's lives and the need to integrate the experiences and knowledges of women in the South, as well as all women in the North, if we are to move toward a more inclusive, sensitive theorizing about both women's subordination and their power.

Hilary Rose's remarks in Box 6 illustrate some of the new thinking of feminists in the South and North. Staying Alive by Vandana Shiva is a marvellous example of the ways that feminists relate to theory, using it as a resource in the defence of both women and nature. First the book is written from within a struggle of the Chipko women to defend the trees on which their lives depend. While without the mass movement there would be no story, it is also a story in which her skills as a scientist are integral.

Her account of the struggle is a story of transformation She makes solid technical arguments about what is happening to the land and the water. Her training as a physicist — part of that universalistic highly abstract discourse so criticised by feminism — is both a crucial element within, and transformed by the struggle.

She reports different ways of collecting data, organising in fresh ways, producing a holistic ecological knowledge specific to the locality and people. This careful rethinking of the environmental endemic generates a highly "situated and embodied knowledge" with strong claims to objectivity, out of the "universalistic and disembodied knowledge" of the physicist. Nor are the activities she reports limited to new knowledge building, for she also describes and endorses essential myth making which historically has often given energy to social movements of the excluded but which unquestionably often makes their intellectual allies uneasy.

Whereas Western feminists have mostly fought the notion that women are naturally nearer to nature, seeing that as a patriarchal cage, Shiva casts Indian peasant women and the myths they construct cast themselves in the role of the natural protectors of the forest. Essentialism is used as a source of strength. It is a dangerous move yet the situation is already a matter of staying alive. But the point I want to make is the extra-ordinarily divergent strands which Shiva weaves together.

Nothing that can be made useful within a struggle is disregarded, she takes very different discourses and radically recycles them, adapting them with strength and imagination to political purposes. In Shiva I think we get something of a reply from a feminist scientist to Audre Lorde's question, can the master's tools be used to dismantle the master's house? I think the reply goes something like this, providing we are prepared to select, to adapt, to use for hitherto unimagined purposes and weave them in with the entirely new, then yes, we can use the master's tools.

But in the process it is crucial to understand that the tools are themselves transformed. As well as tearing down the master's house, that crucial preliminary act, a feminist science also begins to build anew, to construct a feminist science. This more comprehensive knowledge base enables a wide cross section of experiences and measures to inform policy and action. Chapter 4 will examine existing policies and those being developed, to illustrate how they reflect and satisfy the needs of women.

This chapter discusses theorizing as a process used to test assumptions about a number of phenomena in order to generate principles and theories to explain these phenomena. This chapter also points out that traditionally this process has been male centred and related to the cultures, nationalities, and dominant economic classes of the theorists, who did not take into account the perspectives and experiences of women or the problems and issues that affect women.

Until feminist theorists began critiquing existing knowledges, these theories were used to produce programs and policies that adversely affected the lives of women. The readings highlight the feminist challenges to the traditional, androcentric approach to theorizing and discuss some of the characteristics of feminist approaches. These approaches not only take into account differences in experiences of women and men but also recognize that women themselves do not constitute a homogenous group. Using these approaches, feminists have deconstructed androcentric theories and knowledge and produced a comprehensive view of women's multiple realities.

The knowledges they have generated provide a basis for critiquing existing policies and determining alternative policies and activities to address the problems affecting women. Recognizing that factors such as class, race, ethnicity, age, social status, and sexual orientation shape perceptions and experience points to the social character of gender and gender relations. In the next chapter, you will examine a number of theories on gender and development that have evolved from a process of both women's and men's theorizing in different contexts and situations.

Baksh-Soodeen, R. Is there an international feminism? Alternative Approach 24 Summer , Charlton, S. Women in Third World development. Chhachhi, A. Concepts in feminist theory: consensus and controversy. In Mohammed, P. Harding, S. Conclusion: epistemological questions. In Harding, S. Introduction: Is there a feminist method? Ornstein, A. Curriculum — foundations, principles and issues. Rose, H. Alternative knowledge systems in science: can feminism rebuild the sciences?

In Bailey, B. Stanley, L. Breaking out: feminist consciousness and feminist research. Whose science? Whose knowledge?

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Talking back — thinking feminism, thinking black. Seibold, C. Feminist method and qualitative research about mid-life. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 19, This chapter introduces the concepts of gender and development and the factors that gave rise to their emergence. It also provides an explanation of the precolonial experience of so-called Third World people, especially with respect to gender relations and the experiences of women and men in social, political, and economic life.

The discussion challenges simplistic characterizations and generalizations of precolonial societies and points to their rich diversity and difference. This chapter provides a framework for considering alternative ways of perceiving human social and cultural development and organizing social, economic, and political life. It also provides information that challenges traditional monolithic assumptions about women and the sexual division of labour. To explore the evolution of the concepts of gender and development and to critically examine their underlying assumptions;.

To recognize the diversity of human experience and the alternative measures of value and standards for the assessment of progress and human achievement; and. To provide a general historical understanding of the lives of Third World people before the institutionalization of development.

In ordinary usage, development a noun derived from the verb develop implies movement from one level to another, usually with some increase in size, number, or quality of some sort. In the Penguin English Dictionary, the verb develop means "to unfold, bring out latent powers of; expand; strengthen; spread; grow; evolve; become more mature; show by degrees; explain more fully; elaborate; exploit the potentialities of a site by building, mining, etc.

Erbakan, Kısakürek, and the Mainstreaming of Extremism in Turkey

For our purposes, these meanings of development apply to human societies. The usage of the word in this context was popularized in the post-World War n period to describe the process through which countries and societies outside North America and Europe many of them former colonial territories were to be transformed into modern, developed nations from what their colonizers saw as backward, primitive, underdeveloped societies see Box 1.

Colonialism refers in general to the extension of the power of a state through the acquisition, usually by conquest, of other territories; the subjugation of the inhabitants to a rule imposed by force; and the financial and economic exploitation of the inhabitants to the advantage of the colonial power.

Characteristic of this form was the maintenance of a sharp and fundamental distinction often expressed in law as well as in fact between the ruling nation and the subordinate colonial populations. This led to entrenched forms of racism. In the modern period, that is, since , colonial powers initially included the Dutch, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Later, other European states also became involved, such as the Belgians and Germans. In the 20th century, the United States, too, became a colonial power. It is necessary to differentiate between settler colonialism and nonsettler colonialism.

In the case of the United Kingdom, for example, special status of dominion or protectorate was given to settler colonies, such as Australia, Canada, the Irish Free States, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Southern Rhodesia, and the Union of South Africa, which had large communities of European migrants. They were usually self-governing territories of the British empire.

Protectorate was used to refer to territories governed by a colonial power although not formally annexed by it. In these areas also, including the United States, internal colonialism is often used to describe the relationship between the settlers and the native or indigenous people and minorities.

Although other forms of domination and hegemony have existed in human history, this chapter concentrates on the specific form of European colonization and colonial domination that has taken place since the 16th century. Today, this grouping includes former colonial, largely but not totally tropical, countries, peopled mainly by non-Europeans. It is usually referred to as the Third World, underdeveloped countries, developing countries, and, more recently, the South or the economic South.

Although it would be helpful to have one term to designate all of these countries, none of the above terms is really adequate. All are based on assumptions that we should be aware of when we use them. They are an improvement, however, on the terms first used in development writing, such as backward or economically backward countries. It is important to note that before European colonial domination, many societies had already felt the impact of other dominating forces.

For example, in North Africa the spread of the Islamic influence wrought great changes in the lifestyle of the native people — so much so that, now, some people hardly have any memory of a pre-Islamic past. In India, the spread of Hinduism over the continent had a similar, although more varied, impact. In some instances, the colonizers entered countries already controlled by well-established, stratified, patriarchal structures and introduced yet another controlling force into women's lives.

In this chapter, I briefly explore each of these concepts and the contexts within which they arose. The concept of underdeveloped-developing countries emerged as part of the work of early development economists in the s, who theorized very simplistically about the stages of development mat societies had to pass through to become "developed," or "modern. In addition, the history of Western industrialized countries was used as a broad model for the process through which all societies were to pass.

Around the s, with nationalist sentiments becoming vocal, the term less developed was added, as it was considered less pejorative than underdeveloped. This approach is sometimes critically referred to as developmentalism. Not much later, a school of mainly sociologists and political scientists emerged. They were eventually referred to as modernization theorists because they described this process as one of becoming modem.

They, too, developed a triad:. Modernity may be understood as the common behaviourial system historically associated with the urban, industrial, literate, and participant societies of Western Europe and North America. The system is characterised by a rational and scientific world view, growth and ever-increasing application of science and technology, together with continuous adaptation of the institutions of society to the imperatives of the new world view and the emerging technological ethos. One of the main features common to these two approaches is that they equated development or modernity with industrialization.

Industrialization and its companion, urbanization the emergence of towns and cities , were considered the only ways for backward societies to become modern, or developed. Progress and advancement were also seen in this light. There was little appreciation of the social, cultural, economic, or political attributes of non-Western societies. Indeed, these approaches accepted to a large degree the colonial feeling of superiority over indigenous peoples, many of whom were decimated, robbed of their land, or confined to reservations or territories for example, in Australia, Canada, and the United States , or marginalized and forced to flee into the mountains for example, in parts of Asia and most of South and Central America see Box 2.

Thus are economies based on indigenous technologies viewed as "backward" and "un-productive. On the contrary, the destruction of ecologically sound traditional technologies, often created and used by women, along with the destruction of their material base is generally believed to be responsible for the "feminisation" of poverty in societies which have had to bear the costs of resource destruction. These approaches also had little to say about women. Women were largely linked to the traditional and backward aspects of these societies and most resistant to change.

Because the theorists used traditional in such a general sense, with little recourse to history or social anthropology, they little realized the diversity in women and men's relations, in modes of domestic and family organization, or in social, economic, and political life. It emerged with the heightened anticolonial consciousness that arose with the coming of the new nation-states in Africa and Asia.

This was also a time when the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union-Eastern Europe was dividing the world along ideological and geopolitical lines. They adopted the position of nonalignment with either camp, arguing the need for a third, alternative world grouping. The term Third World was adopted by many of these countries to differentiate themselves from the First World the North Atlantic capitalist world, or the world of advanced market economies and the Second World the centrally planned economies of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

The Third World consisted of all other nations — usually in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and South and Central America, including the centrally planned economies in these areas. One of the main criticisms of the concept of the Third World has been that it suggests a hierarchy of nations. Some people argue that to accept third place is to accept a lower status in the world order. The people who coined the phrase probably never considered this but simply saw Third World as an alternative to the two main options their countries were being pushed to accept, options that, as history would show, they would eventually agree to.

North-South became a popular term around , after the publication of the report of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues, popularly known as the Brandt Commission because it was led by the late Willy Brandt, former Chancellor of West Germany see Brandt According to one source,.

The expression was selected by the Commission to emphasize the economic divide between the North rich nations and the South poor nations and to highlight the presumed desirability of a North-South dialogue grounded in a common concern for global problems and freed from the complications of East-West political interests. This division, like many associated with relations of power, is geographically incorrect.

Some countries in the South are neither low income nor not former colonial countries; likewise, some economies and conditions of life in the North, such as can be found in Eastern and Southern Europe, have little in common with the leading industrialized capitalist economies of the North. For some, this terminology reflects global restructuring and the changes taking place in the global economy. Economic South was a term coined to further delineate this grouping in economic and political terms, rather than in purely geographic ones.

The heyday of developmentalism — in the s, s, and s — fostered some strong beliefs, such as. That state or government should play the central determining role in introducing development policies and strategies that could lead to improved standards of living and conditions of life; and. That international investment, loans, and aid can redirect economies away from their traditional bases — usually in agriculture — toward industry and manufacture.

Today, although much of this sentiment has changed, much has remained the same. The dominant thinking in the late s and early s has been that the state has a leading, but only facilitating, role in the economy. Development is now seen as the responsibility of private companies and, increasingly, private nongovernmental organizations NGOs. In addition, the market is seen as the main arbiter of decision-making.

This approach is based on the renewed influence of liberal economic thinking now called neoliberal economics , which has affected international economic. All this has taken place within the context of a Third World debt crisis, within which economic restructuring and structural-adjustment policies are advocated as mechanisms for generating income to repay debt.

Such thinking has become reality through the conditions on the stabilization and structural-adjustment loans offered by the International Monetary Fund IMF and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development the World Bank to countries facing balance-of-payments difficulties. The main purpose of the new organizations was to provide a basis for monetary and currency stability for increased trade and expansion of these economies. This was to be accomplished by providing financial support during periods of balance-of-payments difficulties, that is, when imports exceeded exports.

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was later added, and, according to Dennis Pantin, each of these institutions would play a complementary role in the management of a world economy that did not restrict the movement of goods, services, and money Pantin Since the emergence of the new nation-states in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific in the s and s, the Bretton Woods Agreement has widened in scope. As a result of the current trend in monetarist, or neoliberal, economics, the role of this agreement has expanded.

The IMF provides short-term stabilization assistance to countries with balance-of-payments difficulties, on condition that they implement certain fiscal and monetary policies. The World Bank, on the other hand, is more concerned with long-term adjustment through restructuring of host economies along fixed lines.

The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Development | SpringerLink

Its policies can be summarized as follows Blackden :. Stabilization or reduction of budget or balance-of-payments deficits, reduction of budget deficits or freezes in public-sector employment, cut-backs in public-sector investment, removal of public-sector subsidies usually away from the agriculture and social sector to the private commercial sector , and tax reform;. Promotion of the private sector through contracting of public services, sale of state enterprises, and deregulation;. Market liberalization and price reforms, in which the local market is opened to greater foreign and domestic competition; exchange-rate liberalization, usually devaluations or floatation of local currency to encourage exports; and removal of price controls and supports to local industry; and.

Rationalization of public-sector institutions, including civil-service public-sector reform, privatization of state enterprises, and reform of the social sector to make it cost-effective. Aspects of these neoliberal policies have also been implemented since the s in Northern countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and, more recently, in continental Europe.

Additionally, many governments have implemented economic-adjustment programs without being involved in an IMF or World Bank program. They are not tailored to the particular needs of individual economies;. They contribute to major declines in standards of living, including nutritional levels, educational standards, employment rates, and access to social-support systems;.

They shift more of the responsibility for health care, education, and care of the sick and elderly to women already burdened by unpaid work;. They increase social ills, such as violent crime, drug abuse, and violence against women; and. They result in increased levels of migration legal and illegal from the South to the North. In many parts of the North and South, women's organizations and NGOs are involved in developing sustainable and economically feasible alternatives to these neoliberal policies of structural adjustment. The term sustainable development came into popular use after the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, popularly known as the Brundtland Report and the Brundtiand Commission, respectively.

The report was largely a response to the growing international environmental and ecological lobby. It defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" WCED , p. According to Donald Brooks , the paradigm, or worldview, emerging around this concept recognized the need to ensure and facilitate the following:. Integration of conservation and development;.

Maintenance of ecological integrity;. Satisfaction of basic human needs see Chapter 3 ;.

Achievement of equity and social justice; and. Provision of social self-determination and cultural diversity. This comprehensive approach does not reflect all approaches to sustainable development. Some economists, for example, speak of "sustainable growth. Nevertheless, a more equitable distribution of existing resources could lead to improvements in the quality of life.

Feminist activists have been central to the movement against environmental degradation and for sustainability right from the movement's inception. They have also often gone beyond the narrower definitions of the issues to include the struggle for peace and the struggle against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Whereas most of the discussions on sustainable development have taken place within the context of mainstream development economics, feminist activists have for the most part seen sustainable development as part of a larger alternative model of development or societal transformation.

It must be in harmony with nature if nature is to sustain us, we must sustain nature ;. It must be people centred and oriented people have to be seen as the subjects, not the objects, of development ;. It must be women centred recognizing the responsibility that women have always assumed for catering to the basic needs of society ;.

It must cater to the needs of the majority consumption levels of the rich and industrialized world must be reduced ;. There must be decentralization of decision-making and control over resources within countries and internationally;. Democracy must become more participatory and direct, unleashing the latent energies of the people; and. At every level, sustainable development must promote the politics of peace, nonviolence, and respect for life. In short, sustainable development for many feminists from the South and North implies a new kind of political, economic, social, and cultural system and a new value orientation.

The seeds of the women-and-development concept a broad-based term that includes a number of approaches to women's development; see below were planted during the s and s. During this time, 50 countries were freed from colonialism, and the women who had participated in independence movements acted on their convictions that they must join with men in building these new nations.

For example, at the beginning of the s, women of East African countries, led by Margaret Kenyatta, met at seminars to adopt strategies aimed at reaching their goals. This was at a time when the revived feminist movement in the North had not yet found a distinct voice and The Feminine Mystique Friedan ,. Before that time, in , just 2 years after the formation of the United Nations, the Commission on the Status of Women CSW was established to monitor United Nations activities on behalf of women.

To a large extent, however, its efforts were limited within the legalistic context of human rights. By the s and s, women of these newly independent countries began taking their delegations to the United Nations though in small numbers and were able to challenge the legalistic agenda of CSW by raising development-oriented issues. By , when the-United Nations General Assembly reviewed the results of the First Development Decade of the s, three factors that would eventually converge to foster the various approaches to women's development had become evident:. It was found that the industrialization strategies of the s had been ineffective and had, in fact, worsened the lives of the poor and the women in Third World countries.

The Second Development Decade was therefore designed to address this and "bring about sustainable" improvement in the well-being of individuals and bestow benefits on all. Boserup, an agricultural economist, used research data from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America to highlight women's central positions in the economic life of these societies, and she described the disruptive effects of colonialism and modernization on the sexual division of labour through the introduction of the international market economy.

Among other things, this process drew men away from production based on family labour and gave them near-exclusive access to economic and other resources. Boserup concluded that the economic survival and development of the Third World would depend heavily on efforts to reverse this trend and to more fully integrate women into the development process. The feminist movement reemerged in Western countries around , alongside other social movements for civil rights.

Although the movement's energies were, for the most part, directed internally, some Western women used their position to pressure their government's foreign-aid offices to ensure that grants to recipient countries supported women as well as men. The central point of the original women-and-development approach was that both women and men must be lifted from poverty and both women and men must contribute to and benefit from development efforts. Its formulation is based on the following suppositions:. Because women comprise more than half of the human resources and are central to the economic as well as the social well-being of societies, development goals cannot be fully reached without their participation.

Women and development is thus a holistic concept wherein the goal of one cannot be achieved without the success of the other. Women, therefore, must have "both the legal right and access to existing means for the improvement of oneself and of society. International Women's Year was declared by the United Nations in , and the celebration of this at the First International Women's Conference in Mexico City marked the globalization of the movement. This unique intergovernmental conference and the nongovernmental International Women's Tribune Centre TWTC , a networking and communications institution, brought together women from nearly all countries of the world under the theme Equality, Development and Peace and extended its work during the United Nations Decade for Women, This sparked the creation of institutions and networks world-wide as "women and development" became an area of specialization in the development field.

At the national level, "national machineries" — commissions on women, women's desks, and women's bureaus — were soon established in most countries. New women's organizations and networks sprang up at the community and national levels. These contributed to the institutionalization of women and development as an internationally recognized set of concepts and did much to generalize knowledge and consciousness about women's issues internationally. Visit the national machinery for women's affairs in your country. It may be a women's desk, a women's bureau, or a ministry of women's affairs.

Write a short history of its emergence and analyze its interpretation of the term women and development. The concern with gender emerged as feminist theorists sought to understand the complexities of women's subordination. The word gender came into mainly academic use some 15 years after the reemergence of lateth-century feminism, which has, unlike its earlier manifestations, made a significant dent in male-dominated androcentric scholarship at least, I like to think so.

Feminist scholars argued that the Western academic tradition, of which most universities and colleges in the world are part, has systematically ignored the experiences of women in its fields of learning, concepts, theories, and research methods. Additionally, although claiming to be scientific, it has really embodied mythical assumptions about women's and men's capabilities, the sexual division of labour in early human history, and, as a result, women's place in today's society.

These assumptions were extended to non-Western societies, with the result that Western assumptions and values influenced relations between the sexes and between groups within each sex, relations that ranged from egalitarian to highly patriarchal and stratified. The word gender, like development, had a specific usage before feminist theorists extended its meaning. One of the earliest uses of gender in feminist theory can be traced to the University of Sussex Workshop on the Subordination of Women and the school of thought that emerged from this workshop. Scholars such as Olivia Harris, Maureen Mackintosh, Felicity Odium, Ann Whitehead, and Kate Young argued that women, like men, are biological beings but that women's subordination was socially constructed and not biologically determined.

They argued further that to conceptually differentiate between these two realities, it is necessary to identify "sex" as the biological differentiation between male and female, and "gender" as the differentiation between masculinity and femininity as constructed through socialization and education, among other factors. What is biological is fixed and unchangeable, but what is social is subject to change and should be the focus of attention for feminist theorists. In its more recent use, as you will see in Chapter 3 , gender has come to be used, like class and ethnicity or race, to designate an analytical social category, one that interacts with other social factors in influencing life experiences of groups and individuals see Box 3.

Firstly, what is gender? It is somewhat ironic that the term "gender," which was first coined by psychologists and then used by feminists to get away from the biologistic referent of the word sex, is now virtually synonymous with the latter word. Yet by using gender we are using a shorthand term which encodes a very crucial point: that our basic social identities as men and women are socially constructed rather than based on fixed biological characteristics.

In this sense we can talk about societies in which there are more than two genders and in the anthropological record there are several such societies , as well as the historical differences in masculinity femininity in a given society. Since that time this concept has gained widespread acceptance in a range of groups and often for different reasons. Some of these reasons are as follows:. The need to include men in our analysis:. Those who worried that women's studies scholarship focused too narrowly and separately on women used the term In its simplest recent usage, "gender" is a synonym for "women.

In some cases this usage In these instances, the use of "gender" is meant to denote scholarly seriousness of a work, for "gender" has a more neutral and objective sound than does "women. Recently, the phrase "women in development" WID is also being replaced in some circles by "gender and development" GAD or "gender concerns in development" GCID The details of these approaches will be dealt with in more explicitly in Chapter 3. Today, however, two types of critiques have emerged in relation to the concept of gender.

One of these comes from a movement perspective. As noted by Joan W. Scott, gender has become a useful and almost inescapable concept in women's studies and feminist theory Scott Many people in the women's movement fear, however, that this is leading to a situation in which women are once more invisible. They note that the fields of WID, GAD, GCID, feminist theory, and women's studies all owe their origins to the women's movement and the struggles of women in the streets, towns, villages, and academies.

Yet, today, with the growing acceptance of academic women's studies and gender specialists, the concern with the day-to-day problems and struggles of women and the movement is being marginalized and, indeed, no longer even acknowledged. The divisions between male and female are not as fixed and clear cut as once thought — the male-female dichotomy is seen as being just as problematic as other dichotomies in Western thought; and. It is not so simple to extricate what is "sex" from what is "gender," as these two phenomena, as described, intertwine.

Although the concept of gender can never substitute for that of woman, it has added to our understanding of the complexities of human social relations in numerous ways. Clearly, it is a concept that is here to stay. It is important that we recall the richness of the history of most developing countries before colonialism and the era of development.

It is also important for us to understand the nature of social relations in the earlier periods of that history. As I noted earlier, the Third World, or the South, really comprises most of the world. It is a mistake to speak of this vast and varied area as if it were all the same. Until recently, most of our history of this region was androcentric. It focused on the period after the encounter with Western Europe and emphasized male action or agency. In addition, it was often first written in Western languages by Western male scholars who, with few exceptions, were Eurocentric and intolerant of the people they studied.

As a result, our historical records are laced with racism, sexism, and imperialist sentiments. The following 17th-century European male's description of matrilineality in West Africa is a clear example:. The Right of Inheritance is very oddly adjusted; as far as I could observe, the Brother's and Sister's Children are the right and lawful Heirs, in the manner following.

Although development theorists paid little attention to the complexities of these societies before the era of development, social anthropologists did. However, they also took with them androcentric and ethnocentric biases that clouded their view of these societies and of gender relations in these societies. In the heyday of Third World nationalism, in the s and s, indigenous historians sought to correct this wrong.

Most of these historians were male or trained in the androcentric worldview, so knowledge of women's experiences in precolonial society continued to be hidden. To counteract centuries of what Peter Worsley called "imperialist history," nationalist historians often distorted this history to highlight a great and glorious past, stressing the kings and queens, wealth and empire. In so doing, they often ignored the traditional egalitarianism of many precolonial societies, in which women had greater power and autonomy and life was more in tune with nature and the environment, not based on its destruction.

Today, as feminist activists and other concerned scholars reevaluate development and modernization, there is a renewed appreciation of the positive features of the ways of life in earlier societies, although we realize the limitations of those times. We also understand the need to preserve and protect the egalitarian and environmentally friendly practices that have survived in our societies and have been adapted to serve people's needs, often outside mainstream political and economic structures.

Collect examples of women's knowledge of medicine and healing and the ways in which these have been passed on from one generation to another. Since the late 18th century, social scientists have sought to develop a schema to explain the variety and differences in human experience. Early evolutionists incorporated the notion of progress: human development moving from primitive, backward forms to advanced and developed ones.

Functionalist anthropologists in the midth century concentrated on seeing each society as an integrated whole. They could not help interpreting what they observed through their biased perspectives and basing conclusions on their customary assumptions. Today, although critical scholars no longer attribute value to societies in terms of progress or backwardness, they do recognize that precolonial societies may have been at different stages of social development.

These stages are usually described in relation to the production systems that predominated at the time. Like all schemas, however, these descriptions provide only a partial understanding. Most societies cannot be neatly classified in one category or another.

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Many show signs of being at more than one "stage. Some anthropologists totally reject any theory of stages of social development because of their links to the notions of modernization and progress. They argue, instead, for a nonstage approach that examines each society on its own terms and sees movement social change taking place in any direction.

Transitions from one stage to another, if these are thought to occur at all, are therefore the result of many factors that anthropologists are still exploring, including a society's environment and its historical relationships with other groups. The stages are usually identified as follows:. Feminist anthropologists have also argued that the organization of social and production relations — such as social stratification , the monogamous family, ownership of property, and forms of work and production — has greatly influenced the differences in gender relations around the world.

In some instances, as discussed earlier, societies were extremely stratified patriarchies before the arrival of European colonizers. This was sometimes the result of domination by other patriarchal and highly stratified groups or an existing system of social stratification. In many other instances, however, this was not the case, especially in matrilineal societies, as shown in Fatima Mernissi's description of Morocco before its Islamization:. The panorama of female sexual rights in pre-Islamic culture reveals that women's sexuality was not bound by the concept of legitimacy.

Children belonged to their mother's tribe. Women had sexual freedom to enter into and break off unions with more than one man, either simultaneously or successively. A woman could either reserve herself to one man at a time, on a more or less temporary basis, as in a mut'a marriage, or she could be visited by many husbands at different times whenever their nomadic tribe or trade caravan came through the woman's town or camping ground. The husband would come and go; the main unit was the mother and child with an entourage of kinfolk.

In all situations, women had been able to create spaces and possibilities for autonomy within the structures of subordination existing in their societies see Case Studies However, these strategies were complicated or removed by the imposition of assumptions about a woman's or man's place in the new systems of stratification that were based on notions of class and racial or ethnic superiority. Elisa Buenaventura-Posso and Susan E. Brown, in their study of the Bari, an indigenous people of Columbia, traced the Bari's historical background and described their society as "fully egalitarian," a society without stratification, differential access to resources, or accumulation of wealth; exhibiting full sexual symmetry and individual autonomy; and valuing each person's work as socially equal.

Buenaventura-Posso and Brown made their assessment through analyses of the processes of leadership, stratification, decision-making, division of labour, ritual, interpersonal relationships, and general social atmosphere. The ferocity with which the Bari resisted usurpation arid extinction by powerful external forces for years contrasts sharply with their harmonious, classless, internal social organization and very high regard for peace.

In , a colonial envoy noted that "they do not live subject to anyone's domination Two hundred years later, a visiting Capuchin monk made similar observations, adding that "there are no privileged classes The head of the group cannot be called a chief Everyone enjoys absolute freedom within There are special positions of responsibility, which may be changed, but they do not carry even temporary authority. The Bari are forest horticulturists who live in autonomous groups of , occupying two or more dwellings several days' travel apart from one another.

House members belong to three groups, named after the positions of their hearths — east, west, and centre — and the people in these groups cook and share food together. Each group has its own hearth, and each individual has his or her own space.

Foundations of the Anthropology of Gender

Order is maintained, collective activities are performed, and each individual has a recognized place. No one has more access to strategic resources, authority, or knowledge than any other person. The organization and division of labour between the sexes and among children are practical, flexible, and complementary, with little prohibition against interchange. Although a few tasks are restricted, many are communal or, like house-building, performed by both sexes. Inter-dependence is high, and consequently there are no resulting hierarchies, social divisions, or antagonisms between the sexes.

The Bari's few rituals and ceremonies display full sexual symmetry. These rituals and ceremonies help each group maintain alliances with other groups. Both men and women can invite guests of the same sex, exchange gifts, and sing songs about their respective activities over days or weeks. Sexual independence is maintained before and after marriage. Unions are generally stable but are dissolved without a fuss when they are not. Interpersonal relations are shaped by complex, subtle connections, pacts, alliances, and kinships among the separate, autonomous groups.

All Bari are either ojibara ally or sadodi kin to one another, and sagdoji-okjibara is the linking principle, promoting order and taking the place of genealogical descent. Like earlier observers, Buenaventura-Posso and Brown noted the harmonious, egalitarian, and gentle relations between man and woman, as well as in the general social atmosphere.

Studies considering gender hegemonies from medieval times to the early postcolonial period in south India indicate that within the strictures of caste, class, and gender stratifications, Nayar matrilineal social structure vested leadership and power in the male and allowed various degrees of autonomy to women. Kalpana Kannabiran, in her thesis, "Temple Women in South India: A Study in Political Economy and Social History", suggested that the matrilinearity of the Hindu Nayar caste may hinge, in a sense, on the patrilineal structure of their close, but superior, caste Brahmin neighbours, the Nambudiri Kannabiran Kerala has a caste-based society and an agricultural economy with a per capita income well below the national average.

Yet, other statistics indicate higher standards of living in most vital aspects than found in the rest of the country: birth rates and infant mortality rates are lower; life expectancy is longer; and education and literacy levels are higher. The figures are particularly striking for women who live longer in Kerala , and explanations have been sought in the social history and development of the people of the region.

The Nayar constitute a numerous fourth-level martial Hindu caste in Kerala, south India. Until the middle of this century, their social system was matrilineal. Theirs was a humane system in which the eldest male managed the family affairs but descent was traced through the female line from a female ancestor. Properties were jointly owned by families in the name of the senior female.

A woman was free to move about the locality and had a say in choosing her own husband.