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SOCC38H3 (20)
Ann Mullen (20)

Week 12 Lecture

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Ann Mullen

Gender and the production of knowledge • Textbooks and biases in textbooks • How knowledge itself can be biased/limited/distorted • How knowledge is produced • What we read/think/study creates knowledge in society and relationship of gender to knowledge • How music or other forms of art are produced • Knowledge – we tend to think of knowledge as just being existing because it is knowledge, but we don’t ask why are we learning about these topics/concepts? • We’re producing this body of knowledge that exists in books and literature • This compilation of knowledge that’s produced, how has that been influenced? • Two themes: o This work challenges the work of objectivity The researcher tend to influence/bias their work All of these works really have a light on productivity in an objective way Challenges the notion that it’s possible to have objective knowledge o The way these readings all pose a particular challenge There’s a powered political element to these critiques to the construction of knowledge People that had studied knowledge say that much of knowledge has been developed by following this logic of asking questions about social life, natural world/social world The critiques of knowledge look at who is asking those questions, who wants those questions to be answered, who’s generating those answers White men are formulating those questions – generated by a certain segment of the population There are puzzles – depends on the person asking the question It misses much of the other realms of political struggle – in housework and how housework is defined and who does housework Research shows that women do much more housework than men (women do twice as much as what men do even though they both work full-time) The gap has closed a little bit, but women are the ones who are doing the majority of work in the house Women do an extra month of work than men do in terms of housework and child care An issue that affects women’s lives to a great degree This issue is an political issue because it involves political power in the house These are challenges and questions of power, knowledge of different segments of the population are a form of power, and housework is also a form of power Feminism and methodology: • Women were largely absent as subjects of research, research has been largely done on men • Most of what we read as undergraduate student are written by men • Men are capable of writing about gender • Men are still the ones who are creating the majority of knowledge • The people producing knowledge have been and still to a large degree men • It raises this gigantic question about what happens if either women were producing knowledge or seen as appropriate subjects of knowledge • From this initial observation, there has been suggestions of “adding on women” • Erik Erikson wrote about stages of life people go through and there are different crises that people have to resolve and overcome (i.e. inferiority for children) • His research has been done on men rather than on women because they fit men’s lives really well but didn’t fit women’s lives • They are creating knowledge that best fits men’s lives than women’s lives • They found that women didn’t fit the model, women’s crises happen in a different order • Women were judged by this model when they didn’t fit the model • Women were seen as deficient • In the field of psychology, he was writing about the adult development – healthy adults follow this line of adolescents, schooling, marriage, advancements in career, child bearing • But women don’t fit this model – they take time off work to take care of their kids • This experience was really based on a male experience • There are countless examples of this now – articles use only men in their data, are about men and how men continue their college education • Research on men and about men can cover research on women • In the field of psychiatry, women are the majority of people who take anti- depressants • However, research on antidepressants have only been done mostly on men • In sociology, social mobility = person’s chances in life, how they get ahead, career choices...research has been done primarily on men and not on women • Women’s experiences really don’t fit into these models • How women move up depends on who they marry (women marry up) • Most men marry down, so their status is less dependent on the women they marry, while women ‘s status is more dependent on the men they marry • Awareness that women have been excluded from knowledge, and most knowledge is produced by men • Attempts to add women in existing knowledge is not as simple as we think • People thought we just need to add more women in and do more studies on women, but there are three limitations from this idea to add women on (called “add women and stir” approach): o To do more research and give more recognition to the work of women researchers and theorists E.g. Roslyn Franklin – discovered DNA but was not given credit and not recognized, eventually traced back DNA to her research and was credited and recognized o We don’t know the time frame and constraints of women that they were facing at the time Looking at female historical figures and contributions The problem is that we’re still not challenging from this perspective the topics that are deemed important If we identify these women leaders/historians, it doesn’t challenge the notion that this is an important study o Looking at women victims – there have been more and more research on crime on women, women as victims Overlooks the experience of more average women and aspects of women’s lives • Add women and stir approach is a critique that says you can’t just find a few famous women scientists and tap them into the interview, that’s really not enough to just add women and stir • Incorporating women into research involves modifying research strategy and methodology • E.g. there are a lot of studies of how delinquency affects academic achievement (delinquent behaviour = disruptive behaviours, antisocial behaviour
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