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Sociology Gender
by
Janeen Baxter

Introduction

The term gender refers to the cultural and social characteristics attributed to men and women on the basis of perceived biological differences. In the 1970s, feminists focused on sex roles, particularly the socialization of men and women into distinct masculine and feminine roles and the apparent universality of patriarchy. More recent work has critiqued the idea of two distinct genders, calling into question the notion of gender dichotomies and focusing attention on gender as a constitutive element of all social relationships. Gender has been described as a social institution that structures the organization of other institutions, such as the labor market, families, and the state, as well as the social relations of everyday life. In addition, scholars have pointed to the ways in which gender is constructed by organizations and individual interactions. Gender not only differentiates men and women into unequal groups, it also structures unequal access to goods and resources, often crosscutting and intersecting with other forms of inequality, such as class, race, and ethnicity.

General Overviews

A number of works have been produced that provide general overviews of current issues and thinking about gender and gender inequality. More than just textbooks that review the current state of play, these works move the field forward by synthesizing and critiquing key concepts. Some focus on the field of gender broadly, as in the case of Hess and Ferree 1987; Ferree, et al. 2000; and Connell 2002, while others focus on specific aspects of gender inequality in key sites, such as the labor market (Reskin and Padavic 1994) or the family (Coltrane 1998). Kimmel 2000 and Connell 1987 highlight the necessity to consider the social construction of masculinity as well as femininity, while Lorber 1994 draws attention to the seemingly irrevocable and immutable nature of gender as one of its many paradoxes.

  • Connell, R. W. 1987. Gender and power: Society, the person, and sexual politics. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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    This book introduces and develops Connell’s concept of a gender order, a set of social institutions and relations that produce and maintain gender differences and gender inequality. The book addresses four aspects: theorizing gender, the structure of gender relations, femininity and masculinity, and sexual politics. Key concepts examined in the book include hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity.

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  • Connell, R. W. 2002. Gender. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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    This book provides an introduction to gender studies, gender theories, and gender politics. Connell synthesizes structural and poststructural analyses to provide a contemporary framework for gender inequality. The book also provides a concise overview of contemporary gender studies.

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  • Coltrane, Scott. 1998. Gender and families. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

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    This book is part of a series encouraging readers to use a “gender lens” to investigate how social processes differ in systematic ways for men and women. Coltrane argues that gender and family are inextricably linked, and he applies a social constructionist approach to topics such as love, sex, marriage, parenting, care work, engendering children, and the state.

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  • Ferree, Myra Marx, Judith Lorber, and Beth B. Hess, eds. 2000. Revisioning gender. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.

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    This book builds on the volume’s predecessor (see Hess and Ferree 1987), by considering advances in gender studies in the previous decade. The authors adopt an interdisciplinary perspective and provide a comprehensive overview of key topics, including theorizing gender, gender discourse and culture, gender in social institutions, and gendering the person.

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  • Hess, Beth B., and Myra Marx Ferree, eds. 1987. Analyzing gender: A handbook of social science research. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

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    This volume was one of the first to synthesize research on women’s issues, feminism, and gender within social institutions. The handbook is divided into five sections: Gender and Society, Social Control of Female Sexuality, Gender Stratification, Gendered Worlds, and Gender and the State.

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  • Kimmel, Michael S. 2000. The gendered society. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Kimmel argues that gender is not simply a classification for biological sorting but leads to inequality in hierarchy and power. The volume covers explanations of gender, gendered identities, gendered institutions, and gendered interactions.

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  • Lorber, Judith. 1994: Paradoxes of gender. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Lorber critiques beliefs about male and female differences and shows that many suggest female advantage over men, such as women’s procreative capacities. To understand why these capacities have led to gender inequality for women, Lorber develops an understanding of gender as a social institution linked to conflict over scarce resources and social relationships of power.

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  • Reskin, Barbara F., and Irene Padavic. 1994. Women and men at work. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

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    Combines accounts of men’s and women’s everyday experiences on the job with historical evidence, data, and sociological and economic theories to provide a thorough investigation of the connections between work, inequality, and gender. The book covers a range of topics, including the history of gendered work, sex segregation in the workplace, sex differences and earning, and links between paid work and family life.

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Classic Works

Prior to the emergence of sustained critiques and discussion of gender inequality in sociological thought from the 1970s onward, a number of classic works provided the theoretical and political foundations for many second-wave feminist thinkers. Two of the most prominent of these works are Wollstonecraft 1985 and Mill 1985, which focus on equality for women in legal, educational, and political arenas. Beauvoir 1983 and Greer 1970 examine the social construction of femininity as well as the historical and cultural reasons for women’s subordination to men. Friedan 1971, although recently critiqued for its focus on white middle-class American women, is widely considered a classic in second-wave feminist thought, When published, it drew attention to the boredom and monotony induced by domestic life, and how this stifled women’s creativity and potential. Rich 1976 was one of the first works to develop a radical feminist account of women’s subordination, focusing on the constraints imposed by motherhood on women’s lives, while Butler 1990 has become a classic in feminist sexuality theory and provides a basis for the development of queer theory.

  • Beauvoir, Simone de. 1983. The second sex. Translated by H. M. Pashley. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

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    The Second Sex is a seminal feminist work. De Beauvoir explores why women have been forced to take on a secondary position in society drawing on material from a variety of fields, including biology, history, anthropology, mythology, philosophy and economics. She was one of the first to identify the social construction of femininity and womanhood. First published in 1949 and first translated from French in 1953.

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  • Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.

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    Butler challenges biological accounts of binary sex and argues that foundational categories of identity—sex, gender, and the body—are culturally constructed, reproduced, and performed. Drawing on elements of poststructuralist feminist theory, Butler develops a theory of performativity that explains gender as an expectation or performance of an interior essence that produces the phenomenon it claims to reflect.

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  • Friedan, Betty. 1971. The feminine mystique. London: Victor Gollancz.

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    The Feminine Mystique is considered a key work that ignited the second wave of the women’s movement in 1963. Friedan explores the discrepancy between the image of the modern women—what she calls the “feminine mystique”—and the reality of. women’s lives. First published in 1963.

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  • Greer, Germaine. 1970. The female eunuch. London: MacGibbon & Kee.

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    In The Female Eunuch Greer examines women’s perception of self from a historical perspective, and uses the concept of “imposed limitation” to critique female “normality,” the consumer society, and masculine shaping of stereotypes. She argues that the traditional family represses women’s sexuality, and that through this devitalization they are rendered eunuchs.

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  • Mill, John Stuart. 1985. The subjection of women. London: Everyman Classics.

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    Mill’s work provided the theoretical and political foundations of liberal feminist thought by arguing against disqualifying women from rights as an individual through the legal subordination of women to men. He argued that women’s subordination is a hindrance to human development, as half the human race is unable to contribute to society. First published in 1869. The Everyman Classic edition also includes Wollstonecraft 1985.

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  • Rich, Adrienne. 1976. Of woman born: Motherhood as experience and institution. New York: W. W. Norton.

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    Of Woman Born was one of the first works to examine motherhood in a social context from a radical feminist perspective. Rich combines personal testimony with research, developing theories based on both. She argues that the repossession by women of their bodies will bring essential change to human society.

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  • Wollstonecraft, Mary. 1985. A vindication of the rights of woman. London: Everyman’s Classic.

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    Wollstonecraft’s work is one of the first classic works of feminist thought, arguing that women have a right to equal fulfillment as humans and should have the same fundamental rights as men, in particular the right to an equal education. First published in 1792. The Everyman Classic edition also includes Mill 1985.

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Journals

Many general sociology journals regularly feature articles on gender and gender inequality. But there are a number that are specifically dedicated to research and theory on gender and gender inequality. Journals such as Gender and Society, Women’s Studies International Forum, Social Politics, and Feminist Economics publish original theoretical and empirical research, while others such as Signs, Feminist Theory, Feminist Studies, and Australian Feminist Studies also provide a forum for feminist literary discussions and political dialogue.

Theoretical Developments

Sociological work on gender in the 1970s focused on the distinction between sex and gender, adding analyses of women to research that traditionally focused exclusively on men. Oakley 1972 was one of the first to draw attention to the social construction of gender, drawing on cross-cultural examples and anthropological material to demonstrate the relationships between sex, gender, and inequality. In the 1980s, Marxist feminists such as Michele Barrett focused on developing theoretical accounts of gender inequality that combined an understanding of the relations of exploitation and appropriation under capitalism with accounts of gender oppression using feminist approaches (Barrett 1980). Radical feminists, by contrast, such as Shulamith Firestone, developed accounts that focused exclusively on the universality of male domination of women as a result of men’s control over women’s sexuality and procreation (Firestone 1970). Toward the end of the 1980s, the idea of gender roles was surpassed by approaches that focused on the ways in which gender was accomplished, performed, and created in everyday life as a constitutive element of social relationships (West and Zimmerman 1987). At around the same time, feminists of color began to challenge accounts that privileged gender over race and ethnic oppression, producing new approaches that incorporated intellectual traditions from African American, Asian American, and nonwhite standpoints (Collins 1990). Cultural feminists such as Judith Butler challenged and critiqued gender and sex dichotomies and theorized gender and sexuality as shifting and fluid and connected to social representations of the body, the self, and desire (Butler 1993).

  • Barrett, Michèle. 1980. Women’s oppression today: The Marxist/feminist encounter. London: Verso.

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    Barrett’s work is central to Marxist feminist accounts of gender equality. This work provides an overview and critique of Marxist and radical feminist accounts of gender inequality and attempts to develop a synthesis of the two approaches.

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  • Butler, Judith. 1993. Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of “sex.” New York: Routledge.

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    Butler extends her earlier work on performativity in this volume by problematizing the body as a given, stable biological entity. She questions the stability, rigidity, and boundaries of bodies, arguing instead that they are socially produced in relation to gender.

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  • Collins, Patricia Hill. 1990. Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness and the politics of empowerment. New York: Boston: Unwin Hyman.

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    One of the first well-known texts to critique and challenge white, middle-class feminist accounts of gender oppression, Collins highlights black women’s intellectual traditions and reveals their self-reliance and independence. By developing Afrocentric feminist thought, Collins furthers attempts to develop explanations of inequality that integrate race, class, and gender oppression, as well as drawing attention to the production of knowledge.

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  • Firestone, Shulamith. 1970. The dialectic of sex: The case for feminist revolution. New York: Morrow.

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    A classic text in radical feminist thought. Firestone viewed the world as divided into two sex classes, male and female, with women’s biological capacity for procreation at the heart of this dualism. Later critiqued for its biological essentialism, Firestone’s argument demanded that women take control of their reproductive capacities with new technologies in order to overcome male oppression.

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  • Oakley, Ann. 1972. Sex, gender and society. London: Temple Smith.

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    This book is one of the earliest attempts to draw a distinction between sex and gender and to develop an understanding of the social construction of gender. Oakley discusses sex as a biological marker of men and women and uses a range of cross-cultural and anthropological examples from different societies to highlight the social nature of gender distinctions.

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  • West, Candace, and Don H. Zimmerman. 1987. Doing gender. Gender & Society 1.2: 125–151.

    DOI: 10.1177/0891243287001002002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A classic article widely cited and reprinted in various sources. West and Zimmerman lay out an ethnomethodologically inspired account of the accomplishment of gender in everyday interactions. Since the publication of this work, the “doing gender” approach has been at the forefront of attempts to explain domestic divisions of labor, although arguably it is applicable to the construction of gender in a wider range of settings and social relationships.

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Social Class

Research has attempted to disentangle the crosscutting and intersecting ways in which social class contributes to gender inequality. A body of work referred to as the “domestic labor debate” struggled during the 1970s to identify the precise relationship between the surplus value produced by women’s domestic labor and capitalist accumulation, as demonstrated in Seccombe 1974, while Hartmann 1976 provided a more historical sociological account of the relationship between patriarchal divisions in the labor market and gender inequality at home. Goldthorpe 1983 argued that class analysis should focus solely on men’s position as heads of households, igniting a fierce debate about the appropriate unit of class analysis. More recent work has moved ahead by focusing on the intersections of class and gender in specific historical, institutional, and political settings (McCall 2001, Cooke 2011).

  • Cooke, Lynn Prince. 2011. Gender-class equality in political economies. New York: Routledge.

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    Cooke develops a detailed account of the intersectionality of class and gender inequality across time and context, using material from six Western nations. She develops a framework to explain the resilience of gender inequality, as well as emergent new forms, showing how gendered outcomes differ in relation to specific welfare, state, and political contexts.

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  • Crompton, Rosemary, and Michael Mann, eds. 1986. Gender and stratification. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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    A comprehensive overview of key issues in gender and stratification research, with chapters covering the unit of class analysis debate, technology and work, domestic work, social status, the service class, and historical issues. Crompton and Mann argue for an approach to stratification that does not just focus on public structures but also includes areas often defined as private, such the household and the family.

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  • Goldthorpe, John H. 1983. Women and class analysis: In defence of the conventional view. Sociology 17.4: 465–488.

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    Goldthorpe argues that women’s comparatively limited labor market participation means that women’s class circumstances are primarily determined by the economic activity of men, who are typically the main breadwinners for the household. This paper sparked a heated debate about the appropriate unit of class analysis, with feminist responses arguing that women’s labor market involvement had consequences for their own class outcomes, and for those of other family and household members.

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  • Hartmann, Heidi. 1976. Capitalism, patriarchy, and job segregation by sex. Signs 1.3: 137–170.

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    A seminal article in which Hartmann argues that job segregation by sex is the primary mechanism that maintains men’s superiority over women. Sex segregation leads to lower wages for women, keeps women economically dependent on men, and encourages women to undertake the bulk of domestic labor. Capitalism and patriarchy are thus mutually reinforcing systems.

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  • McCall, Leslie. 2001. Complex inequality: Gender, class, and race in the new economy. New York: Routledge.

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    McCall unpacks the intersections of race, class, and gender inequality in the United States, arguing that these relations configure differently depending on the locality under investigation. Focusing on the economies of the Rust Belt and Sun Belt, McCall calls for an account of inequality that considers both economic restructuring and racial and gender divisions of labor in specific localized contexts.

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  • Seccombe, W. 1974. The housewife and her labor under capitalism. New Left Review 83:3–24.

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    Seccombe sought to disentangle the relationship between women’s domestic labor and capitalist accumulation of surplus value. This article is part of a broader body of Marxist work that theorized domestic labor within rigidly defined Marxist concepts, a debate ultimately criticized for ignoring the more fundamental feminist question of why women, rather than men, were responsible for most housework.

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Families

Women’s position within families, and particularly their responsibility for the bulk of housework and parenting tasks, has been identified as key to gender inequality. Hochschild 1989 sought to understand the reasons for the stalled gender revolution despite women’s increased involvement in paid work, while Berk 1985 focused on housework as key to gender production, referring to the household as a “gender factory.” Bernard 1972 drew attention to the idea of two marriages—“his” and “hers”—arguing that the outcomes of marriage in terms of health, happiness, and well-being applied solely to men; while Chodorow 1978 adopted a psychoanalytic approach to explain women’s continued responsibility for parenting in terms of their lack of detachment from their mothers in infancy and childhood. Ferree 1990 moved theoretical ideas forward by critiquing a sex-role approach and arguing for a model of gender that focuses on the construction of gender. More recent work has focused on new topics, including fatherhood (Coltrane 1996) and relationships within specific groups such as low-income families (Edin and Kefalas 2005). Edin and Kefalas show that mothering provides poor black women with a degree of stability and status not available through marriage.

  • Berk, Sarah Fenstermaker. 1985. The gender factory: The apportionment of work in American households. New York: Plenum.

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    Drawing on the “doing gender” approach stemming from symbolic interaction theory, Berk argues that housework simultaneously produces labor and gender. Women accomplish and display their gender as women by doing housework tasks, while men affirm their identity as men by not doing housework, or by only doing appropriately masculine household tasks. The household is thus an important site for the production of gender at an individual and institutional level.

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  • Bernard, Jessie. 1972. The future of marriage. New York: World Publishing.

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    One of the first to identify marriage as a social institution that benefits men more than women, Bernard’s work has been highly influential in sociology and gender studies. Bernard suggests that each marriage has two realities, “his” and “hers,” and that “his” generally provides more benefits than “hers.”

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  • Chodorow, Nancy. 1978. The reproduction of mothering: Psychoanalysis and the sociology of gender. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Like other feminist psychoanalytic theorists, Chodorow draws on Freud’s theories of infant attachment. According to Chodorow, girls are able to remain attached to their mothers for much longer than boys, enabling girls to develop a stronger sense of attachment to others and a stronger emotional capacity to mother. This explains the reproduction of mothering by women across generations.

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  • Coltrane, Scott. 1996. Family man: Fatherhood, housework, and gender equity. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Coltrane charts the changing notions of fatherhood to expand and deepen our understanding of gender divisions of labor. Using primary interview and survey data from a range of sources, he looks at men’s experiences of fathering, why some men are more involved than others, and the implications for understanding gender divisions.

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  • Edin, Kathryn, and Maria Kefalas. 2005. Promises I can keep: Why poor women put motherhood before marriage. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    An ethnographic study of the choices and constraints faced by poor, ethnic-minority women in the United States around mothering and marriage. Edin and Kefalas argue that minority women choose motherhood over marriage because mothering provides the stability, status, and love not readily achievable through marriage. The study suggests changes in the meaning of marriage as well as highlighting the widening social gap between middle-class and low-income families.

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  • Ferree, Myra Marx. 1990. Beyond separate spheres: Feminism and family research. Journal of Marriage and the Family 52.4: 866–884.

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    This is a key paper in the development of understandings of gender inequality and how best to theorize gender. Ferree critiques sex role theory and proposes a theory of gender that moves away from the idea of sex dichotomies to an understanding of how gender is produced in social relationships and through links with social institutions.

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  • Hochschild, Arlie Russell, with Anne Machung. 1989. The second shift: Working parents and the revolution at home. New York: Viking.

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    A landmark study of the “stalled revolution” in the home, aimed at understanding why men do not typically share the “second shift” of housework and parenting tasks at home. Hochschild uses interviews and ethnographic methods to uncover the gender strategies in two-earner couples to manage paid and unpaid work, finding that in most households women do the bulk of unpaid work in addition to their increasing involvement in paid labor.

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Employment

Gender inequality in the labor market takes a number of forms, including inequality between men and women in access to jobs and positions of authority, as well as inequality in labor market outcomes and rewards, such as pay rates. Researchers concerned with documenting and explaining these differences have shown that the feminization of the labor market since the 1970s has not led to a uniform decline in gender inequality. Rather, gender differences remain or are reconstituted in new ways, as evidenced by authority structures (Kanter 1977), sex segregation (Reskin and Roos 1990, Charles and Grusky 2004), and pay rates (Blau and Kahn 2000). Some explanations for these inequalities focus on women’s responsibilities for mothering (Budig and England 2001), but there is also recognition of a need for more complex explanations that take account of discrimination in hiring practices and differences in political and institutional contexts (Harkness and Waldfogel 2003, England 2005, Milgrom and Petersen 2006).

  • Blau, Francine, D, and Lawrence M. Kahn. 2000. Gender differences in pay. Journal of Economic Perspectives 14.4: 75–99.

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    Blau and Kahn examine trends in the gender gap in pay over time for the United States and other OECD countries. They note a continuing decline in the gender gap in the United States through the 1970s and 1980s, but a slowing of these trends in the 1990s. Explanations in terms of human capital, discrimination, and sex segregation are assessed in relation to these observed trends.

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  • Budig, Michelle J., and Paula England. 2001. The wage penalty for motherhood. American Sociological Review 66.2: 204–225.

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    Budig and England use data from the National Longitudinal Survey for Youth, 1982–1993, to examine why motherhood is associated with lower hourly pay. They find a motherhood penalty of 7 percent per child, about one third of which is explained by past job experience and seniority. They attribute the remaining penalty to the effects of motherhood on productivity and to employer discrimination.

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  • Charles, Maria, and David B. Grusky. 2004. Occupational ghettos: The worldwide segregation of women and men. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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    Grusky and Charles examine why occupational sex segregation continues, despite seemingly counter trends of women’s increased involvement in education and increased inroads into the labor market. They argue for a multidimensional measure of sex segregation that incorporates both vertical and horizontal segregation and is unaffected by rates of female labor force participation and the size of occupational categories.

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  • England, Paula. 2005. Gender inequality in labor markets: The role of motherhood and segregation. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society 12.2: 264–288.

    DOI: 10.1093/sp/jxi014Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    England provides an overview of current explanations for sex segregation and gender pay gaps. She argues that women’s mothering responsibilities are only part of the explanation for sex segregation, and that there is limited evidence that the pay penalties to women from mothering accrue primarily through segregation. The implication is that traditional supply-side arguments about how mothering is linked to segregation and pay require rethinking.

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  • Harkness, Susan, and Jane Waldfogel. 2003. The family gap in pay: Evidence from seven industrialized countries. Research in Labor Economics 22:369–413.

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    Harkness and Waldfogel assess differences in hourly wages between women with and without children across seven countries. Results show that the United Kingdom has the largest motherhood penalty in pay of those countries considered, while the Nordic countries have the lowest. Differences in mothers’ employment rates and differences in wage structures do not explain the cross-national variations. Harkness and Waldfogel suggest the need for further examination of country-specific family policies.

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  • Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. 1977. Men and women of the corporation. New York: Basic Books.

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    Kanter’s work is a landmark study of the structure of discrimination and advantage in modern corporations. Using case study material from a large US industrial organization, Kanter investigates how organizations reproduce inequality. She argues, for example, that managers are more likely to promote men over women because they prefer people like themselves. This leads to homogeneity among managers and stronger barriers to promotion for women.

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  • Milgrom, Eva M. Meyersson, and Trond Petersen. 2006. The glass ceiling in the United States and Sweden: Lessons from the family-friendly corner of the world, 1970 to 1990. In The declining significance of gender. Edited by Francine Blau, Mary C. Brinton, and David B. Grusky, 156–211. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    Milgrom and Petersen examine women’s failure to reach the top ranks of firms in the United States and Sweden. Sweden provides a useful comparison, given its generous family policies, but surprisingly high levels of sex segregation. Despite declining discrimination across cohorts in Sweden, “pipeline” problems—such as the unequal distribution of women across educational fields and women’s responsibility for domestic labor—continue to block women’s rise to the top.

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  • Reskin, Barbara F., and Patricia A. Roos. 1990. Job queues, gender queues: Explaining women’s inroads into male occupations. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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    Reskin and Roos examine occupational sex segregation using case study material from occupations that became disproportionately more female during the 1970s. They develop a queuing perspective that explains occupational change in relation to changes in the ways workers rank jobs (job queues) and changes in the way that employers rank workers (labor queues).

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Race

Since the 1980s there has been increasing recognition of the need to examine gender and race as interlocking systems of stratification. A number of works by women of color (e.g., hooks 1981) began to appear that challenged white, middle-class conceptions of gender inequality and drew attention to racism as an integral part of the oppression of nonwhite women. Later, Parreñas 2001 and Glenn 2002 provided empirical evidence of the intersection of race and gender in the labor market, while Browne and Misra 2003 and McCall 2005 focused on the development and testing of theories of intersectionality that combined gender, race, and class inequality into one analytical framework.

  • Browne, Irene, and Joya Misra. 2003. The intersection of race and gender in the labor market. Annual Review of Sociology 29:487–514.

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    Browne and Misra review theories of the intersection of race and gender, focusing on how well they explain inequality in the US labor market. They suggest that some labor market inequality may best be explained by theories of race and gender stratification as independent systems, while other sites of inequality, such as immigration and domestic work, are best explained by intersectional theories that combine race and gender.

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  • Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. 2002. Unequal freedom: How race and gender shaped American citizenship and labor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    This work provides a historical account of the interconnections of race, gender, and class, with a focus on social citizenship and labor. Glenn uses case study material from three agricultural regions in the United States to illustrate the experiences of different social groups. Her work shows how race and class interact with labor relations to shape definitions of social citizenship.

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  • hooks, bell. 1981. Ain’t I a woman: Black women and feminism. Boston: South End.

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    This is a landmark work that highlights the dual impact of racism and sexism on black women in the United States. hooks examines sexism during slavery, the devaluation of black womanhood, black male sexism, and racism within the contemporary women’s movement. She argues for an inclusive movement for change that encompasses a recognition of the intertwining of race, class, and sex oppression.

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  • McCall, Leslie. 2005. The complexity of intersectionality. Signs 30.3: 1771–1800.

    DOI: 10.1086/426800Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    McCall develops a framework for theorizing and examining the interconnections between multiple dimensions of inequality and identity. She outlines an analytical method for understanding crosscutting forms of inequality, such as race, class, and gender. Intersectionality is understood not as studying relations between discrete social groups, but rather in terms of categories of analysis that are inherently multigroup and comparative.

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  • Parreñas, Rhacel Salazar. 2001. Servants of globalization: Women, migration, and domestic work. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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    A comparative study of transnational migrant Filipina domestic workers in Rome and Los Angeles, based on extensive fieldwork and observations. Drawing on themes of globalization, migration, dislocation, international divisions of labor, and partial citizenship, this book portrays the heartbreaking experience of women who leave their families and children behind in the Philippines to provide care for families in the developed world.

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State and Welfare Policy

Research on the relationship between the state and gender inequality has a long tradition in sociology. Throughout the 1980s, attempts were made by radical feminists to develop a general feminist theory of the state, as exemplified in Mackinnon 1989 and other works. More recently, the emphasis has been on the implications of specific welfare-state policies for gendered outcomes, as examined in Gordon 1990; O’Connor, et al. 1999; and Leira 2002. Some analyses have focused specifically on the relationship between welfare policies and outcomes within families (Gornick and Meyers 2003), while others have included outcomes for gender inequality in the labor market or focused on the way in which the state orders sexuality, reproduction, and bodies. Orloff 1993 and Folbre 1994 advance sociological theorizing of the links between states and the production and maintenance of gender inequality.

  • Folbre, Nancy. 1994. Who pays for the kids? Gender and the structures of constraint. New York: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203168295Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Folbre asks how the costs of social reproduction, namely caring for children and dependents, are managed by societies. She draws attention to the failure of mainstream economics to consider family relationships and social reproduction in the home. Her analyses also brings to the fore the importance of understanding how social groups with diverse interests have shaped labor markets and family patterns.

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  • Gordon, Linda, ed. 1990. Women, the state, and welfare. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

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    Gordon documents three main stages in feminist theorizing of the welfare state: work that demonstrates the discriminatory nature of welfare programs, work that develops a structural critique of welfare, and work on women’s political activism and influence in developing a welfare system.

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  • Gornick, Janet, C., and Marcia K. Meyers. 2003. Families that work: Policies for reconciling parenthood and employment. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    The United States diverges sharply from many other countries, particularly in Europe, in the degree of support given to parents attempting to combine paid work and child care. Gornick and Meyers review cross-national policies and models for a range of countries. They discuss concerns about the well-being of children, gender equality, and work-family conflict to highlight policies that will improve outcomes in all three areas.

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  • Leira, Arnlaug. 2002. Working parents and the welfare state: Family change and policy reform in Scandinavia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Leira examines how Scandinavian welfare policies support a balancing of work and family. She argues that child care has been reconceptualized from being the sole responsibility of parents to being a shared responsibility of the state and parents. However, different policies have different implications for gender inequality, with some reinforcing gendered outcomes and others promoting a shared care model.

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  • Mackinnon, Catharine A. 1989. Toward a feminist theory of the state. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Mackinnon articulates a radical feminist account of the patriarchal state as a universal system of men’s exploitation and dominance over women. The basis of this power stems from men’s control of women’s bodies through rape, pornography, and control of women’s reproductive rights.

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  • O’Connor, Julia S., Ann Shola Orloff, and Sheila Shaver. 1999. States, markets, families: Gender, liberalism, and social policy in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511597114Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Authors investigate the relationship between social policies and gendered outcomes in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The focus is on gendered outcomes in levels of involvement in the labor market, income maintenance patterns, and reproductive rights. This work illustrates the theoretical approach developed by Orloff 1993 with empirical examples of welfare policies and outcomes in these countries.

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  • Orloff, Ann Shola. 1993. Gender and the social rights of citizenship: The comparative analysis of gender relations and welfare states. American Sociological Review 58.3: 303–328.

    DOI: 10.2307/2095903Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Orloff’s work has become a classic essay critiquing mainstream comparative welfare research for its lack of attention to gender. She extends the mainstream power resources approach, epitomized in the work of Korpi and others, by arguing for two new dimensions to assess states’ effects in gender relations: women’s access to paid work, and women’s capacity to form and maintain autonomous households.

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Sexuality

The social basis of sexuality has been the focus of many recent analyses. Similar to the feminist critique of gender dichotomies, theorists have argued that sexuality is multiple, fluid, and socially constructed in time, spaces and place (Weeks 1985). One of the earliest theorists arguing for the social basis of sexuality was Adrienne Rich, who suggested heterosexuality is at one end of a long continuum of possible sexualities. More recent work has emphasized issues surrounding sexual multiplicities, the body, and transsexualism (Rich 1980, Seidman 1994). Other work has focused on masculinity, problematizing definitions and understandings of masculinity in the same way that early gender theorists deconstructed dominant definitions of femininity (Connell 1995, Seidman 2002, Kimmel 2008). Some British theorists have extended the field further by exploring the links between sexuality and broader theories of reflexive modernization and risk (Adkins 2002).

  • Adkins, Lisa. 2002. Revisions: Gender and sexuality in late modernity. Buckingham, UK: Open Univ. Press.

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    Adkins is representative of recent British work on gender and sexuality. In this book she combines European theoretical traditions on modernity, reflexivity, and risk with theories of sexuality to argue that sexuality is being refashioned in late modernity. Rather than theorizing sexuality in terms of social structures, Adkins argues for an understanding of contemporary sexuality in relation to increased mobility and reflexivity.

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  • Connell, R. W. 1995. Masculinities. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Connell examines ways of understanding masculinity and the development of men’s studies, drawing on life history interviews with differing groups of men. This book is a classic in the field and furthers Connell’s attempts to theorize the gender order and the concept of “hegemonic masculinity,” the dominant definition of masculinity developed in relation to femininity and certain forms of subordinated masculinity. Connell’s work extends understanding of gender by drawing attention to the multiplicities of masculinity.

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  • Kimmel, Michael. 2008. Guyland: The perilous world where boys become men. New York: Harper.

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    Kimmel charts the development of masculinity and masculine behaviors among white, middle-class, adolescent American youths, using material from interviews with men aged sixteen to twenty-six. He introduces the concept of “guy-code,” the peer-influenced, enforced behaviors many young men adopt during adolescence. Invariably this code reinforces dominant behaviors, including homosociality, homophobia, aggression, and sexism.

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  • Rich, Adrienne. 1980. Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Signs 5.4: 631–660.

    DOI: 10.1086/493756Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rich argues that heterosexuality should be studied as a social institution. She suggests that the assumption of innate heterosexuality should be challenged and that the concealment of a lesbian continuum of woman-centered experiences has been a major impediment to feminist activism and theory. In Rich’s view, heterosexuality has been forcibly and subliminally imposed on women and is a central plank in women’s subordination to men.

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  • Seidman, Steven. 1994. Symposium: Queer theory/sociology: A dialogue. Sociological Theory 12.2: 166–177.

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    Seidman provides a concise well-organized and readable introduction to contemporary ideas on sexuality, transgenders, and transsexualism, many of which underlay new developments in the area of queer theory. This article is the introduction to a symposium in this issue of Sociological Theory that contains a number of papers discussing many of the key ideas and concepts in research and theorizing on sexuality.

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  • Seidman, Steven. 2002. Beyond the closet: The transformation of gay and lesbian life. New York: Routledge.

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    This book charts the history of the gay movement in the United States, focusing on gay men. Seidman notes that while much has changed in recent decades, and many gay men can now live openly as homosexuals, many contemporary institutions assume and reward heterosexuality, and citizenship continues to be based on “normal” sexual behavior.

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  • Weeks, Jeffrey. 1985. Sexuality and its discontents: Meanings, myths, and modern sexualities. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203407462Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Weeks examines the social organization of sexuality, its origins, meanings, and politics. This book is the third in a set of monographs by Weeks that question the existence of a sexual essence, either heterosexual or homosexual, and explore the history of sexuality and the politics of desire and identity.

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LAST MODIFIED: 10/28/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756384-0022

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