Zulu grandmothers socialization of granddaughters

  • Maria G. Cattell Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Millersville University and The Field Museum of Natural History, USA


Qualitative exploratory research among Zulu grandmothers and granddaughters was carried out in 199S in KwaZulu-Natal. Preliminary analysis of data from interviews and participant observation is briefly reported here. This analysis suggests that older women continue to have important roles in Zulu families, including teaching granddaughters about work and respectful behaviour. At the same time, there are tensions and stresses between the generations and between Zulu ideas about women's roles and transformations of women's roles in contemporary South Africa. Interviewees' perceptions of critical junctures of these interpersonal and sociocultural tensions focussed on premarital sexual behaviour and pregnancies, respect between the generations, and education and its effects on the roles of Zulu women (and more broadly, gender relations), and women's possibilities for success in the formal economy and modern world. Aware of these tensions and problems, grandmothers are not giving up their mission to socialise granddaughters into Zulu culture, even when there are failures such as a granddaughters falling pregnant. At the same time, they are looking for ways to enhance their granddaughters' life chances through formal education.


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