Bargaining and Gender Relations: Within and Beyond the Household
ABSTRACT: Highlighting the problems posed by a "unitary" conceptualization of the household, a number of economists have in recent years proposed alternative models. These models, especially those embodying the bargaining approach, provide a useful framework for analyzing gender relations and throw some light on how gender asymmetries are constructed and contested. At the same time, the models have paid inadequate or no attention to some critical aspects of intrahousehold gender dynamics, such as: what factors (especially qualitative ones) affect bargaining power? What is the role of social norms and social perceptions in the bargaining process and how might these factors themselves be bargained over? Are women less motivated than men by self-interest and might this affect bargaining outcomes? Most discussions on bargaining also say little about gender relations beyond the household, and about the links between extrahousehold and intrahousehold bargaining power. This paper spells out the nature of these complexities and their importance in determining the outcomes of intrahousehold dynamics. It also extends the bargaining approach beyond the household to the interlinked arenas of the market, the community, and the State.