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The Custom of Bride Wealth in Africa:The Context of Change and Reconstruction

  • Cross-Cultural Studies
  • 2018, 50(), pp.131-172
  • DOI : 10.21049/ccs.2018.50..131
  • Publisher : Center for Cross Culture Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Literature
  • Received : February 10, 2018
  • Accepted : March 1, 2018
  • Published : March 30, 2018

Byung-Soo Seol 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

It is noted that nowadays, the bride wealth custom takes an extremely distorted form in African society. Such a phenomenon is a result that the male-dominant culture, Western religions, and capitalist economic system have been negatively combined into dynamic factors seen as bride wealth. This means that the concept of bride wealth has been incessantly reconstructed in the middle of clash and conflict of tradition and modernity. There is also little doubt that the practice is inextricably tangled with the common and current ways of livelihood, early marriage, polygyny, kinship/family structure, poverty, and migration labor. Bride wealth has become an increasingly commercialized element under a capitalist economic system. Accordingly, its traditional symbolism is seen to be subsequently weakening, whereas a tendency towards the reification of women is strengthening more in modern society that embraces modern customs bent on the protection of women’s human rights. Its commercialization has produced a result, which instigates the noted violations of women’s basic human rights, gender inequality, and promotion of domestic violence. The ways that people perceive bride wealth vary according to their own sex, generation, stratification, and ethnic background. Those people who negatively recognize bride wealth will increase with the deepening of its commercialization due to the influence of capitalism. Its color and effect will deepen and depend on how its agents correspond to socioeconomic changes. They will constantly reinterpret and reconstruct it within their own environments, but the basic human rights efforts are constantly under review by concerned individuals seeking to promote equality for women as a global effort.

Citation status

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This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.