Daughters, Decisions and Domination: An Empirical and Conceptual Critique of Household Strategies


  • Diane L. Wolf

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      Diane L. Wolf is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA. She has just completed a book on female factory workers and their families in Java, and plans to return to Java to research intra-household relations and family formation among the factory workers she studied in the early 1980s.


This article focuses upon the decision-making process in the household with regard to young women and factory employment in Java and Taiwan, and critically examines to what extent these processes reflect household strategies. While Javanese daughters may seek factory employment against parents' wishes, Taiwanese daughters may be obliged to submit to parental decisions and work for years in order to contribute income. The concept of ‘household strategies’, however, inadequately describes both situations, masking relations of power, resistance and inequality within the household. The assumptions underlying the concept of household strategies and their broader analytical implications are explored, leading to the conclusion that a more differentiated view of the household is needed, taking power relations and struggles between genders and generations into account.