Higher Education – Lower Respectability. Analyzing negotiated perceptions of the ‘good life’ by highly educated, yet unemployed women in Zimbabwe

Cecilie Holdt Rude

Studenteropgave: Speciale


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 places 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.

UddannelserKultur- og Sprogmødestudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato1 okt. 2013
VejledereLene Bull Christiansen


  • Feminism
  • Higher education
  • Modernity
  • Education
  • International development
  • Southern Africa
  • Academic unemployment
  • Zimbabwe
  • Gender
  • Unemployment
  • Neoliberalism
  • African gender studies