University of Sussex
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Continuities and discontinuities in gender ideologies and relations: Ghanaian migrants in London

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:40 authored by Prosper Price Delali Asima
This thesis examines the interrelationship between migration and gender, exploring the migration trajectory of Ghanaians in London from their motivation to migrate, their settlement patterns and their transnational activities. The study specifically investigates two main questions: firstly, if and how patriarchal gendered ideologies and relations are influenced by the new migration space and how gender interacts with other social differences (e.g. class, nationality, education, legal status) to reconfigure gendered patterns of behaviour in the country of destination? Secondly, how do gender ideologies and practices influence the maintenance of transnational links with migrants’ home country and vice versa? The study adopts a multi-sited ethnographic approach to gain an insight into the experiences of migrants. It demonstrates that paid employment, contextual factors and social differentials simultaneously reinforce and transform patriarchal gender relations in different social spaces. The thesis argues that the international division of labour, institutional challenges and socio-economic factors in the new social space of London provide different dilemmas for migrants. These opportunities and constraints lead to contestations and renegotiations which require that migrants reconcile earning with caring. This in turn leads to changes in the relative power and status of women and men in the host country. This study distinguishes the factors leading to gains and losses; shows that Ghanaian migrants are gendered actors; and contributes to disaggregating the persistence or transformations in patriarchal gender relations. The man’s position as the breadwinner is often significantly challenged undermining his patriarchal authority in the household. Ghanaian women on the other hand have often been able to gain new access to resources, make life choices and participate in decision making in the households thereby being empowered across space and time. The study contributes to current understanding of empowerment processes by focusing on the role of men in this process, maintaining that socio-cultural and economic factors impact the lives and activities of male and female migrants differentially, reconfiguring patriarchal hierarchies and levelling power relations and decision making processes to more egalitarian patterns. It also argues that the formation of transnational families as a result of ‘split marriages’ and children being sent back to the origin country for fostering leads to different gendered outcomes for migrant and non-migrant women, men and children. The study shows that responsibility for production, reproduction and socialisation is divided across national borders, with the performance of financial, emotional and practical support, decision making patterns and power relations negotiated in the transnational social space. The study contributes to deepening understanding of the critical nature of the interplay of the private and public spheres in gender dynamics and its interrelationship with migration, and also demonstrates that childcare has a significant impact on the caring and earning roles of parents, the organisation of households and enhancement of gender equality.


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  • Geography Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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