ISBN 9781906704469
Pages 320
Dimensions 234mm x 156mm
Published 2009
Publisher Adonis & Abbey Publishers, Nigeria
Format Hardback

Fragmented Families, Poverty, and Women's Reproductive Narratives in South Africa

by Kammila Naidoo

Fragmented Families addresses a central question in the demographic debates on poverty and fertility transition in southern Africa:. In what ways do women's recurrent encounters with poverty serve to shape their sexual unions, social relationships and reproductive practices? The book focuses on the lives of a group of mothers and daughters from fifteen families in a demarcated part of the Winterveld area in South Africa, and draws attention to historical, socio-cultural, political and economic concerns in order to place in context or make sense of reproductive dynamics and family life at the micro-level. Vignettes, drawn from fieldwork, highlight the particularities of the area: the persistence of historical tensions, diverse livelihoods and complex gender relationships. The intergenerational stories of the women suggest that they live with immense and increasing adversity and that strategies to contend with them sometimes include attempts to assert control over sexual encounters and reproductive outcomes. The book contributes to a continuing debate on how changing socio-economic conditions could influence prospects for and the nature of fertility transition in African countries. The study concurs with alternative arguments that shifts toward lower levels of fertility might be due, in certain contexts, to experiences of severe hardship rather than favourable economic circumstances. Instead of seeking security and risk-aversion through bearing many children the response of indigent women in this area has been largely to resist reproduction, at particular stages of their lives, whilst using sexual relationships and child-bearing as strategies to manipulate and secure resources. In reflecting on methodological approaches, the book draws attention to the limitations of survey research in efforts to elicit 'accurate' representations of reproductive behaviour and fertility preferences, and emphasises the usefulness of more engaged, qualitative and long-term fieldwork endeavours in building substantive insights on women's familial and reproductive lives.
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About the Author

Kammila Naidoo

Kammila Naidoo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She completed her PhD at the University of Manchester in 2001 where she was a Commonwealth Scholar between 1998 and 2000. Her work on poverty, family and women's lives has been published in several journals including the Journal of Asian and African Studies, African Sociological Review, South African Review of Sociology and Forum: Qualitative Social Research. Contact: kammila.naidoo@up.ac.za. Publication date: August 2009.

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