Accepted paper:

"Second Adolescence": Questioning Singleton Lifestyles in Africa

Authors:

Fenneke Reysoo (Graduate Institute, Geneva)

Paper short abstract:

A widespread social change is taking place in major cities of the world with far-reaching political, economic and cultural consequences, namely the rise of living alone. Do African young women and men also opt for singleton life-styles in their second adolescence?

Paper long abstract:

A widespread social change is taking place in major cities of the world with far-reaching political, economic and cultural consequences: the rise of living alone. Living on your own questions something fundamental about what we value today. Statistics on Africa show that the group of "never married persons" 40--49 years are numerically on the rise (especially women). In some African countries (especially North Africa and Southern Africa) women are either resisting marriage or no good fits for men to marry. Higher educational levels of women, their participation in the labor market as professionals, their subsequent financial independence, freedom of mobility and social networks of their own are main determinants and at the same time are among the factors that make them less suitable for marriage in prevailing systems of gendered hierarchies in which men (and their parents) prefer to engage with subservient wives and daughters-in-law (hypergamy). The Nigerian feminist C.N. Adichie underlines the many stigmas attached to unmarried women who live on their own in Lagos. Female scholars from the Graduate Institute who return as professionals to their African countries confirm that it is "not done" to live in an apartment of their own. This paper explores in how far one-person households and singleton lifestyles are a critique of prevailing conceptions of family, patrimony, and self-accomplishment of men and women in African. My paper questions: Do African young women and men also opt for singleton life-styles in their second adolescence? And if not, why? Do African young women and men also opt for singleton life-styles in their second adolescence?

panel P083
Coming of Age in a Time of Change: New Forms of Gendered Self-Accomplishment in (East) Africa and beyond