AuthorAnderson, Nadina Lauren
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation investigates patterns of financial exchange in Ukrainian couples. While previous studies of money management focus on the physical organization of money in the home—e.g. pooled, independent, partially pooled—I focus on the meaning of money in exchange and explore how patterns of exchange become legitimized in the home. Drawing on data from 110 in-depth interviews with married and cohabiting individuals, I advance a theory of gendered money and demonstrate how couples give special symbolic meaning to men’s money in domestic exchanges. Unlike earlier perspectives on gender and money such as resource theories and gender performance, this framework acknowledges money as a prop and tool that couples use to construct gender boundaries and signal normalcy in the marital relationship. Integrating concepts from economic sociology with Hochschild’s insights on the symbolism of domestic labor, I find that Ukrainians use money as a token and symbol of value, not as a commodity with which to obtain desired outcomes. By spending men’s money on "necessary" items and avoiding accessing women’s money in the household, couples construct men’s money as both visible and valuable while rendering women’s money non-fungible. Partners adopt the financial practices that feel comfortable and gender-appropriate, even when women earn more than their husbands. Building on this framework of gendered money, I problematize the concept of a gender "ideology" by arguing that gender beliefs do not always drive financial practices in ways anticipated by gender scholars. Using Swidler's toolkit theory of culture to better understand the duality of gender beliefs and gender structures, I argue that not all gender beliefs can be conceptualized as "ideological." I explore how many of my respondents were inconsistent in the ways they discussed gender and fairness in the home. These inconsistencies provide evidence that individuals can be highly flexible in the ways they legitimize their domestic exchanges. This flexibility creates dilemmas for individuals who desire to change their strategies of action over time. Specifically, I give examples of women’s thwarted desires—respondents who wanted to align their practices with their beliefs but could not due to the lack of cooperation from their partner. I conclude that practices need not always match articulated beliefs; moreover, particular patterns of exchange are culturally entrenched and difficult to displace. Lastly, I analyze how money and labor are symbolically exchanged in the home. I argue that power asymmetries occur when one partner must exert more labor to engage in an otherwise “equal” exchange with their partner.
Degree ProgramGraduate College