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Balancing tradition and modernity in narratives surrounding contraception use among poorer women in West Bengal, India.
Unformatted Document Text:  7 women, wives and mothers in their situations. This happened also within the interview context itself; as other women would occasionally enter into an interview situation, and there would ensue a conversation between three or four women, agreeing, disagreeing, or making suggestions to each other. What, then did women talk about in these contexts? They talked about topics as diverse as value conflicts, mothers-in –law, and the education system. But one topic they kept returning to was motherhood, and what it meant to them both culturally and as individuals. Children and mothering were discussed over and over again, and this paper is based on the sections of the conversations that centered on this topic. Back grounding the cultural value conflict. Motherhood is a certainty for many women around the world. This is especially so in India, where most girl children grow up with the near certainty that they are someday going to marry and have children, and that the role of wife and mother is going to be of foremost importance in their lives (Krishnaraj, 1997; Seal, 2000). This is a two edged sword, because while it is true that women achieve more power in Indian society as they grow older, have children, and become more essential to the family structure, it is also true that this power is only achievable within certain narrowly structured cultural norms, and within the context of the conventional family (Das, 1995). Be that as it may, it is unarguable that within the structure of the Indian family, having children and mothering them brings to a woman a measure of social power that an unmarried or motherless woman finds it difficult to attain except in the most non-traditional settings.

Authors: Mookerjee, Devalina.
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women, wives and mothers in their situations. This happened also within the interview
context itself; as other women would occasionally enter into an interview situation, and
there would ensue a conversation between three or four women, agreeing, disagreeing, or
making suggestions to each other.
What, then did women talk about in these contexts? They talked about topics as
diverse as value conflicts, mothers-in –law, and the education system. But one topic they
kept returning to was motherhood, and what it meant to them both culturally and as
individuals. Children and mothering were discussed over and over again, and this paper is
based on the sections of the conversations that centered on this topic.
Back grounding the cultural value conflict.
Motherhood is a certainty for many women around the world. This is especially so
in India, where most girl children grow up with the near certainty that they are someday
going to marry and have children, and that the role of wife and mother is going to be of
foremost importance in their lives (Krishnaraj, 1997; Seal, 2000). This is a two edged
sword, because while it is true that women achieve more power in Indian society as they
grow older, have children, and become more essential to the family structure, it is also
true that this power is only achievable within certain narrowly structured cultural norms,
and within the context of the conventional family (Das, 1995). Be that as it may, it is
unarguable that within the structure of the Indian family, having children and mothering
them brings to a woman a measure of social power that an unmarried or motherless
woman finds it difficult to attain except in the most non-traditional settings.


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