'Women Use their Strength in the House': Savings Clubs in an Mpumalanga Village

'Women Use their Strength in the House': Savings Clubs in an Mpumalanga Village

Author: 
James, Deborah
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2015
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Journal of Southern African Studies (JSAS)
Source: 
Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 41, No. 5, October 2015, pp. 1035-1052
Abstract: 

In settings of increased inequality, where rising prosperity for some spells penury for others, savings clubs enable new types of communality to be created - especially by women - which mediate, or are mediated by, new inequalities and dependencies. Changing gender dynamics and challenges to patriarchal authority, arising from apartheid-induced relocation and, later, the expansion of a somewhat gender-skewed state grant system, now find expression in the relative autonomy enjoyed by some female civil servants and informal traders. More than simply 'loose ends' of apartheid's homeland system, women's savings clubs are being woven together into new fabrics of intensified solidarity. But not everyone can benefit equally from these sociable arrangements. Clubs occupy a point of intersection between two trends. One comprises modern roles and concerns associated with upward mobility in democratic South Africa. The other is evident in pockets of apparent informality and customary mutuality, where egalitarian sociability predominates. Setting out an arena linked to, but discrete from, that of capitalism, the clubs help members alternately accommodate and defy capitalism's imperatives, while also fending off demands made by poorer relatives, neighbours, and those with too few resources to belong to clubs.

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CITATION: James, Deborah. 'Women Use their Strength in the House': Savings Clubs in an Mpumalanga Village . : Taylor & Francis Group , 2015. Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 41, No. 5, October 2015, pp. 1035-1052 - Available at: http://library.au.int/women-use-their-strength-house-savings-clubs-mpumalanga-village-0