Research Portfolio Post #4: Article Comparison

Mitra claims continued son preference persists despite economic developments and educational advances for women. The cultural embeddedness of son preference derives from the “interplay of economics, religion and culture”. [1]  Therefore, son preference is demonstrated as a culturally embedded phenomenon, reinforced by patriarchal systems and women’s lowered status.

Mitra uses a Small-n (NP) case study analysis of India using qualitative surveys and census data such as sex ratio and infant mortality rates. Using this data to evaluate trends across India’s 29 states and create “social indicators” outside of wealth and economic factors, contributing to son preference. Indicating patterns and trends of son preference in light of economic and social progress.

Gupta et al. claim the devaluation of women both in society and economically results from a societal emphasis on Kinship and that continued preference for sons are due to their perceived social and economic value. Son preference is “culturally determined”, a product of culture, and as a result economic incentives and utilization for sons dictate this continued trend of preference.[2] Illustrates that kinship logic and processes are ingrained in the culture.

Gupta et al. take an Interpretivist approach through the use of country-specific examples, narratives, and interviews to create a cross-national comparative study that highlights cross-cultural similarities and differences. An ethnography on the nature and course of son preference across cultures.

Both articles conclude solutions that emphasize the value of women and incentivize the societal and cultural development of women as to be equally valuable as men. Their distinct difference is in the way they have evaluated culture as playing a large factor but as either culturally derived or culturally determined.

Mitra and Gupta et al. articles provide a broader context to my own topic by discussing factors impacting and influencing female infanticide and the suggestion of infanticide as an implementation of such. Seeking to understand my puzzle not as another explanation of infanticide but as an explanation and insight into the multilayered decision making process. Help to create a greater understanding of the overarching ideas contributing and surrounding scholarly conversations related to my topic.

[1] Mitra, Aparna. “Son Preference in India: Implications for Gender Development.” Journal of Economic Issues 48, no. 4 (December 2014): 1021-1037. http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1628902039?accountid=8285.

[2] Monica Das Gupta et al., “Why Is Son Preference so Persistent in East and South Asia? A Cross-Country Study of China, India and the Republic of Korea,” The Journal of Development Studies 40, no. 2 (December 1, 2003): 153–87, https://doi.org/10.1080/00220380412331293807.

2 thoughts to “Research Portfolio Post #4: Article Comparison”

  1. Hi Lizzie! Your research really caught my eye since I’m Indian and have seen examples of son preference, and have grown up hearing about female infanticide. I found Mitra’s research both interesting and true – so much of Indian culture and the Indian household is centered around the son and often sideline the needs and lives of women/girls. Despite India’s desire to continue to grow on the global scale, I believe that this impedes us from moving forward. I also think that while Mitra and Das Gupta do discuss this to an extent, it may also be valuable to look at the the economic insecurity of women and the lack of agency and opportunities they have may! Lastly, I’m not sure how relevant this will to be your research but it may be interesting to look at recent conversations about how the rises in female infanticide are correlated to rises in prices to gold due to the continuance of the practice of dowry. I am extremely interested in seeing how your research turns out – best of luck!

  2. Lizzie — you’ve identified two articles that are relevant to your research and you do a good job discussing them in terms of the main claims in each article. You might take another look at the main methodological approaches of each piece, though. The Gupta et al. piece is very much a piece of neopositivist research (the fact that it is a case-comparative approach is an important clue!). As you read these pieces and other pieces of scholarship, think about the key methodological elements that emerge that you could use for your own research. What key variables or hypotheses are tested, for instance? Beyond the central claims that you identify in each article, what other methodological aspects are important in these pieces? For instance, what key independent variables are tested? What kind of overall explanation does each article offer for puzzles like yours (such that you could think about whether those explanations are at the center of one or more of the conceptual groupings of scholars that you could analyze in your literature review)?

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