Reaping the Rewards of Reproduction: Morality, Retirement, and Repletion

in Contingent Lives

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780226058511
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226058504 | DOI:
Reaping the Rewards of Reproduction: Morality, Retirement, and Repletion

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This chapter describes some of the most fascinating implications of the contingency view of fertility: those that lie in the junctures between health and social morality. Turning to the social relations underlying reproduction, it shows that a woman tries to expend her bodily resources for her husband's family in the expectation that its members will in turn begin to support her as she moves into elderhood. This effort rests on a set of tensions that are expressed in the language of struggle, sacrifice, obligations, and blessings. This chapter also discusses efforts to convert bodily expenditure through sacrifice into social and moral capital, and the culmination of this process in retirement from childbearing. It compares a standard fertility questionnaire to the one that a Gambian woman might create, one that graphically depicts the convergence of physical expenditure and social significance in the temporalities of married life.

Keywords: reproduction; woman; social capital; health; morality

Chapter.  14934 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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