Local Continuity and Change: Perspectives of Senegalese Marriage Dynamics

Sara Randall, University College London
Nathalie K. Mondain, Université de Montréal

This paper uses qualitative data from three contrasting communities in Senegal to investigate the local forces transforming nuptiality. A gendered approach to the new marriage dynamics shows that both the perspectives of the reasons for change and the experienced reality of the transformations differ substantially between men and women. Even where nuptiality trends may appear to be nationally homogenous, we demonstrate that it is essential to consider local processes of change. The study communities exemplify the major evolution in expectations of marriage occurring in urban Senegal but also show how there may be simultaneous movements towards both conservative and innovative marital behavior. International migration, which might be expected to initiate rapid transformation of conjugal relations, is shown in one context to reinforce ‘traditional’ marriage patterns whereas in the capital the combination of higher education, new cosmopolitan values and aspirations, economic crisis and difficult living conditions have transformed conjugal relations.

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Presented in Session 28: Marriage Patterns in Developing Countries