Church teachings , gender relations and women’s agency: A study of women in apostolic churches in Harare.
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It has often been argued that apostolic church teachings and practices are monolithic and overly constraining to women’s agency in life, particularly in the marriage process. This study adopts the sociological stance that individuals have the capacity to express their agency regardless of how oppressive the structures may be. It also argues that expression of agency by apostolic women is mediated within different church teachings and gender expectations. As such, the study has three primary goals; it identifies teachings of three apostolic churches and elucidates the nuances among them, secondly it explains the influence of the teachings on expected gender roles and ensuing marital relations. It also documents how women express their agency in the marriage process within their church’s teachings and expected gender roles. Qualitative research methodology was employed in conducting the research. Data collection methods used were key informant interviews, focus group discussions, semi- structured interviews participant observation, audio and video analysis. Study participants were purposively selected from Johane Marange, Johane Masowe and Johane Wetatu apostolic churches members in Harare. Study findings show that apostolic churches have diverging church teachings and practices that influence gender roles and expectations. The differences in the teachings enable women to express their agency in various, diverging ways. The study demonstrates that apostolic church teachings simultaneously facilitate and constrain expression of agency by women in apostolic churches. It discovered that women express agency when they conform to or defy church teachings and gender expectations. They actively participate in the implementation of church teachings on virginity testing, arranged marriages, polygyny, monogamy and widow inheritance among others. Women under study expressed various forms of agency that include everyday resistance, complicit, victimcy and tactic agency to engage with their church teachings and make self-interested decisions. It is apparent that apostolic women not only enact church inscribed gender roles, but also create other roles that they perceive to be relevant, creating their own identities in the process. They behave as purposeful agents who make conscious decisions concerning their marriages and related issues.
Additional Citation InformationMashonganyika,N. (2017). Church teachings , gender relations and women’s agency: A study of women in apostolic churches in Harare. [Unpublished masters thesis].University of Zimbabwe.
University of Zimbabwe
capacity to express
apostolic church teachings and practices
the capacity to express their agency
influence of the teachings on expected gender roles