Gender in Sociological Theory
o See people in terms of roles that meet the needs of
o For Hunter-Gatherers, women stayed near the camp
and take care of the children while men went out
hunting. Seemingly natural nature of society.
Men/fathers have an instrumental role. Connect
family to the outside world.
Women: Expressive role. Keeps the family
o Looks at gender roles as functional and necessary.
Doesn’t look at inequalities or when the roles are not
working (violence, etc.). Sees it as only within the
Symbolic Interactionist Theory
o How gender is created in face-to-face interactions, and
how they can change from these interactions.
o Doesn’t put enough emphasis on macro interactions, so
it’s only looking at little things rather than the big
picture. Doesn’t account for how there can be external
o Class struggles define our capitalist society, and drives
what is happening today.
o See families divided in two (men and women), which is
a product of capitalism creating competition within the
o Less privileged do lowest paying jobs, so this is why
women are found more in this type of work because
they don’t have as much power as men.
o Didn’t really look at gender, but it provides tools for
thinking about gender hierarchy. Doesn’t account for
external inequalities (like race).
o We learn gender roles in our families and other
Example: Schools, sports, etc.
Key Questions for Gender Studies and Feminist Theory:
What causes and maintains gender hierarchy?
First Wave Suffragette Movement. Late 19 -Early 20 thcentury, fight for
the right for women to vote. Mainly in USA and Britain. Not
considered human, so didn’t have access to full citizenship.
Second Wave Feminists
Educated women who were relegated into their home after
marriage. Didn’t find this fulfilling. Bored housewives, who
usually had maids.
Abortion was a big fight in this wave.
Created several types of feminism:
o Liberal Feminism
Their role at home prevented them from being in
the public sphere.
Equal opportunities to women, so they can
achieve the same things as men. Equality based.
Wanted equal rights (like voting). Women = Men.
Didn’t look at external forces such as race, or
Critiqued: Tries to treat women the same as men,
but women don’t start out the same as men (like
job experiences, need to take time off for child
o Cultural Feminism
Aka Radical Feminists
Thought that cultural ideas held women back, not
the fact that they can get pregnant.
Example: Bearing children is not seen as
special, and valuable.
Want women to be free from maternal/feminine
roles such as having children (having the foetus
grow in a test tube)
Critiques: Not all women are nurturing a