Higher Education – Lower Respectability, Analysing negotiated perceptions of the “good life” by highly educated, yet unemployed women in Zimbabwe

Start date: 31 March, 2013 End date: 14 May, 2013 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A19329 Countries: Zimbabwe Institutions: Roskilde University (RUC), Denmark Grant recipient: Cecilie Holdt Rude Total grant: 15,000 DKK



In this thesis I explore what negotiations arise in articulations of the 'good life' by Zimbabwean women who have attained higher education, but are struggling to find employment. Within a poststructural approach I have conducted qualitative in-depth interviews. I analyze my interviews within a historical and regional context, and through Judith Butler's and Lauren Berlant's ideas on gender norms and cruel optimism. I argue that the modern promise of progression and the neoliberal individualization process in Zimbabwean society place the blame of failure on the individual and keep the women stagnate in their hope of becoming something 'better'. I show how the dream of financial independence before marriage piaces the women in high dependency within other relations and how they become marginalized as 'unrespectable' in society. I criticize the promise from international development organizations of prosperity and empowerment through education and urge for further focus and research within this issue.