Merchant mothers and fishermen fathers : parental investment and subsistence work among the boat-dwelling Shodagor of rural Bangladesh
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This dissertation addresses three general research questions. First, what are the socioecological conditions that lead Shodagor families to employ particular strategies in order to balance subsistence work and childcare? Second, why do Shodagor men and women pursue particular occupational strategies that are cross-culturally unusual while others divide labor in ways that are more in line with other societies? And third, how do Shodagor subsistence and childcare strategies, all of which are concentrated within the nuclear family and influenced by the constraints of the Shodagor socioecology, influence nutritional outcomes for children and parents? I find that the concentration of resource sharing and childcare duties within the nuclear family is associated with husbands and wives cooperating in order to fulfill a family's subsistence and childcare needs. I also find that specific aspects of the ecology -- how far an individual lives from a major market, and how far he or she lives from the Meghna River -- as well as a family's childcare needs play key roles in determining the specific strategies families will employ in order to meet those needs. Finally, I show that while some factors concentrated within the nuclear family influence Shodagor health outcomes within the family in accordance with theoretical and cross-cultural predictions, others do not. These findings have implications for human behavioral ecological theory, which are discussed.
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