Agency from within: The power of relationships and women's influence on contraceptive use in South Asia [electronic resource].

Neidell, Shara Gayle.
423 p.
Families -- Research.
Sociology -- Research.
Women's studies.
Local subjects:
Penn dissertations -- Sociology. (search)
Sociology -- Penn dissertations. (search)
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
In this research, I investigate the ways that women maneuver for power in the household and the village setting and I examine empirically the relationship between women's power and use of contraception. I began this study because I found the measures of women's autonomy being used by demographers unsatisfactory. Instead, I wanted to invoke the feminist conception of women's agency in order to examine how women maneuver for power in patriarchal societies in which women's access to both information and decision-making arenas is limited. Based upon extensive ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Sunsari District, Nepal, I argue that women have neither the skills necessary to make informed decisions nor the power or confidence to break away from their traditionally inferior and subordinate roles. What power women do have comes largely from their relationships with men. Demographic analyses have overlooked these bases of women's power.
While previous demographic research in South Asia has used ethnic/religious group identity as the basis for many analyses, I show that assumptions of within ethnic/religious group homogeneity are mistaken. Moreover, I find that individual measures of women's autonomy are not necessarily positively related to use of contraception.
Using data from the Women's Autonomy and Fertility Survey (Nepal) and the Status of Women and Fertility Project (North India and Pakistan), I employ multilevel logistic and multinomial logistic analyses to show that measures of women's autonomy and agency are, on average, related to both overall use of contraception and method-specific use. Nevertheless, an examination of three-way cross tabulations reveals that these relationships do not hold across villages. Thus, I suggest that in addition to examining the relationship between measures of women's autonomy, agency and contraceptive use in a statistical format, the researcher must also consider the history and context of the local setting. Using results from my quantitative and ethnographic work to graph each Nepali village along two continua, village well-being and women's power, I find that certain combinations of conditions increase women's use of contraception.
Thesis (Ph.D. in Sociology) -- University of Pennsylvania, 1999.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 60-07, Section: A, page: 2694.
Supervisor: Robin Leidner.
Local notes:
School code: 0175.
Leidner, Robin, advisor
University of Pennsylvania.
Contained In:
Dissertation Abstracts International 60-07A.
Access Restriction:
Restricted for use by site license.
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