Conjugality as social change: A Zimbabwean case

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding intrahousehold relations between spouses is central to understanding gendered wellbeing in developing countries, and therefore has engaged the attentions of economists, anthropologists, political theorists and interdisciplinary development studies. In all these fields contractualism in conceptualising conjugality and intrahousehold relations is ubiquitous, yet it implies an overly static and compelling structuralist logic, which this article questions. A better understanding of agency and change, in relation to marriage, matters for both the conceptualisation of intrahousehold relations, and for a range of policy initiatives, for example gender equity, or indeed HIV/AIDS, where the ability of women to instigate change in conjugality and sexual cultures is significant. This article makes no claim to represent contemporary Shona gender relations in Zimbabwe, but offers a temporal analysis of changing conjugality in south-central Zimbabwe from the colonial period into the late 1980s 1 to critique the theoretical stance of contractual approaches, through revealing the ways in which marriage has been reformulated through women's agency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-54
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Development Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Cite this