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Gendered livelihoods and social change in post-apartheid South Africa

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This article employs gendered livelihoods analysis and participatory methods to examine the politics of development among small-scale rooibos tea farmers in a rural coloured area of southwestern South Africa. Differentiating between sources of conflict and cohesion, I discuss how communities navigated resource scarcity, unstable markets, and shifting relations. While patriarchal dynamics informed livelihoods, with males and elders enjoying greater access than females and young adults, women took advantage of relatively fluid female roles to enter into agriculture and commerce. In contrast, rigid male roles and unattainable expectations of manhood isolated men, engendering destructive behaviors among young men in particular. Communities maintained social cohesion through democratic arrangements, and a politics of identification enabled research participants to relate to differential interests. In addition to providing situated and relational insight into the identitarian aspects of rural development, participatory gendered livelihoods analysis offers a critical means for deconstructing power and decolonizing knowledge.
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Keywords: Development; South Africa; gender; identity; postcolonial feminism; social change

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arizona State University, Glendale, AZ, USA

Publication date: April 3, 2018

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