In this paper I argue that women used religious ideas about family and motherhood to bolster and validate their increasing economic activity and autonomy. Their labor was three-fold, composed of their expanding economic responsibilities, the ideological labor of managing changing community relations, and their ongoing domestic tasks. In the midst of this chaotic scene women drew especially on their standing as church members and Christian mothers to affirm their morality and respectability. Based primarily on interviews with one hundred East Africans, this paper explores the ideological and relational work that inevitably accompanies changing labor relations. East Africans women adjusting to economic hardship by mobilized a variety of non-economic resources and strategies, in particular their religious networks and self-confidence as newly autonomous earners.
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