The discursive construction of gender among Dholuo speakers in Kenya

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This paper is based on a study carried out among the Dholuo speakers of Kenya who belong to the Luo community living in the country. The paper sought to identify and describe sexist Dholuo honorific expressions and idioms used in specific contexts of the private domain in order to show how gender is discursively constructed. An interview schedule was prepared using examples of sexist Dholuo honorific expressions and idioms obtained from both a pilot study and Dholuo folklore to help the respondents build the corpus. This interview schedule was subsequently used to administer oral interviews individually to a total of thirty two respondents in the private domain. The interviews were audio-tape recorded and field notes taken during and after each interview. Data collected was subsequently transcribed, coded and analysed using the discourse historical approach of Critical Discourse Analysis. It was found that the Luo tradition and patriarchal society, as discursively expressed in everyday living, reduced women’s self worth and also helped perpetuate the status quo whereby women were regarded as objects and subordinates rather than subjects.


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