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The Construction of Independent Values among Maya Women at the Forefront of Social Change: Four Case Studies



Abstract Life narratives of four middle-aged Maya women in Chiapas, Mexico illustrate how social change toward a Gesellschaft environment—formal schooling, urbanization, and the development of commerce—leads to an indigenous form of feminism, marked by a desire for autonomy and egalitarian relations between men and women. The study advances Greenfield's theory of social change and human development by illustrating processes of adapting to Gesellschaft conditions that move women to adopt an individualistic approach to female empowerment. Data also reveal how collectivistic frameworks are combined with new individualistic values and how Maya women are applying new socialization practices designed to transmit these individualistic feminist values to their children, both boys and girls. Their life stories reflect changing power dynamics in gender relations occurring at the level of the family and society among indigenous populations in Chiapas.

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