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The “social work” of work: Gendered dependencies of rural livelihoods in southern Africa

While policy-makers and international development practitioners in southern Africa put a great weight on supporting job creation given several decades of “jobless growth” in the region, there is less attention on how women and men are both differentially situated in labour relations and how they differentially make claims on resources that come from work activities through, for example, idioms of kinship, family, patronage, or friendship. Drawing on examples of rural work – such as commercial agriculture and artisanal gold mining – in southern Africa, this project goes beyond identifying how work is gendered as it examines the range of gendered obligations placed upon those who work, be it in ostensibly the “formal” or “informal” sector, and how taking into account this “social work” of work opens up broader understandings of the socioeconomic effects of the changing economy on men and women living in the rural areas. By focusing on this gendered “social infrastructure” that conditions and facilitates rural labour and the distribution of any remuneration, my book project examines how men and women gain, are exploited, and contest different forms of work in different parts of rural southern Africa.


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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].