OMNES : The Journal of multicultural society

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OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 10 , No. 1

[ Article ]
OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.110-147
ISSN: 2093-5498 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Jan 2019
Received 27 Oct 2018 Revised 20 Dec 2018 Accepted 27 Dec 2018

Grappling with Live-in-relations: Respectability, Dutifulness, and Sexual Desire among Migrant Young Middle Class Women in Bangalore
Swati Mishra
State Civil Servant in Odisha, India


Much of the past research on the sexual behavior of Indian women has characterized them as subjects of patriarchy, who are passive bodies and embrace the codified gendered values unquestioningly. In contrast, this ethnographic study explores the emergence of new sexual practices among migrant young middle class women working in transnational call centers (TNCs) in Bangalore, in the form of live-in relations. This goes against the expectations of their families that daughters should abstain from pre-marital sex, which is considered to be a non-normative and shameful practice. Drawing on theories of practice and situated reflexivity, I demonstrate how these women negotiate the ambivalences and contradictions that they experience as dutiful, respectable middle class daughters and modern sexual partners. Both ruptures and continuities between the modern and traditional forces are revealed as these women voluntarily assume the homemaker’s role, aspire to marry their partners, and re-claim respectability in an innovative way within their modern live-in relations.

Keywords: habitus, reflexivity, India, migration, sexuality, young women, modernity, live-in-relations, Bangalore, Bengaluru

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Biographical Note

Swati Mishra received her Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology, Massey University, New Zealand. Her research was funded by the NZAID. She has studied Sociology (M.A.) at Central University, Hyderabad and did an M.Phil at JNU, New Delhi. She is presently working as a State Civil Servant in Odisha, India and has wider research interests in the area of globalization, gender and cultural change. E-mail: