Male culture and purdah for women: the social construction of what women think women think

Authors

  • SYLVIA M. HALE

    1. St. Thomas University
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    • *This paper is based on research for a larger study, The Elusive Promise: The Struggle of Women Development Workers in Rural North India, Centre for Developing-Area Studies, McGill University, 1987. This article was received in January, 1987 and accepted in August, 1987.


Abstract

La présente communication étudie le caractère problématique des concepts de culture dominante dans la mesure où ils s'appliquent à la femme. Elle examine les divergences entre des comportements normatifs dans les campagnes de ľInde du Nord, qui prônent ľemmurement féminin, et ce que font réellement les femmes dans des situations présentant un choix concret, telles que de nouvelles possibilités ?emploi. La communication suggère que la recherche dans la science sociale, concue selon des théories et des pertinences masculines, et posant des questions qui présupposent des définitions masculines de la condition féminine, finit par faire partie des mécanismes qui perpétuent chez la femme une notion fausse de la pensée féminine.

This paper explores the problematic character of concepts of dominant culture when applied to women. It examines the discrepancies between normative patterns which extol secluded domesticity for women in rural North India, and what women actually do in concrete choice situations such as new job opportunities. The paper suggests that social science research, designed in terms of male theories and relevances, and posing questions which take for granted male definitions of the female situation, becomes, in effect, part of the mechanisms which perpetuate the ideological construction of what women think women think.

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