A site for the empowerment of women? The clash of patriarchal values and development norms in a family-based NGO

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    Abstract

    Patriarchal norms of the Indian family and normative development goals of gender equity and women's empowerment make uncomfortable bedfellows. This article examines the processes of institutional bricolage that occur with the overlap of these two institutional spaces using ethnographic evidence from two family-based NGOs. It finds that although there is evidence of decoupling between formal structures and actual practices, this does not discount the potential for the transformation of gender norms. I identify three factors that influence this potential: the distance between NGOs and donors; the basis upon which NGOs claim legitimacy with their clientele; and the use of other coercive forms of power. Further, I argue that organizations do not consist of a single institutional space, and that the possibilities for uneven 'bricolage' need consideration. These findings are theoretically relevant for understanding processes of institutional bricolage, as well as practically for feminist projects to transform gender norms in, and through, NGOs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)213-235
    JournalEthnography
    Volume13
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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