|Author||Samanta, Tannistha ♦ Varghese, Sini Susan|
|Subject Keyword||Patriarchal Bargain ♦ Pure Relationships|
|Abstract||Drawing from a group of older and middle-aged (50 years above) women and men who have re-partnered (includes both marriage and cohabitation) through the assistance of a marriage bureau based in the city of Ahmedabad (Gujarat, India), we examine the sociological notions of relatedness and the “practices” of family and intimacy. We ask whether this “non-normative” process of becoming kin in the post-reproductive lives of these participants, holds promise for a democratization of the private sphere as noted by Giddens (1992) where the social process of relatedness is privileged over its biological/procreational forms. In the process, we examine how our study participants tend to organize their newly established relationships through contradictory tensions of negotiations, commitment, social obligation and personal autonomy. In-depth interviews conducted in a dyadic format revealed gendered expressions of personhood, intimacy and sociality. For example, men expected their relationship to bring in nostalgic ideals of domesticity, whereas women associated re-partnering with increased social status, kinship support and economic security underscoring the expected social benefits associated with caste-endogamous idealized heterosexual unions. Significantly, caste relations were instrumental in determining partner preferences and relationship formation with family members among older couples. We show that despite being circumscribed by conventional social scripts, women in these relationships use their (post-reproductive) age to an emancipatory advantage by bargaining with patriarchal compulsions of verilocality and lack of say in partner decisions. In a context where cultural norms prescribe a social pathology of asexuality and familial dependence in later life, this new form of relatedness offers an uplifting narrative of self-disclosure and intimacy, although ultimately reproducing social, economic and symbolic hierarchies of gender and generation.|
|Learning Resource Type||Article|
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