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Week 1 Soc 365 – Gender Relations .docx

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Week 1: Thinking sociologically about women, gender, and inequality • Soc 365 – Gender Relations  Intersectionality is a methodology of studying "the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relationships and subject formations"  The theory suggests—and seeks to examine how—various biological, social and cultural categories such as gender, race, class, ability, and other axes of identity interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systematic social inequality.  Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and religion-based bigotry, do not act independently of one another; instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the "intersection" of multiple forms of discrimination. July 3: Introduction and overview of the course. How do we study gender sociologically? July 5: Focus: Understanding gender as a category of sociological analysis and the concept of intersectionality. Joan Scott, Gender: a useful category for historical analysis  In her 1986 "Gender: a Useful Category of Historical Analysis" Joan Wallach Scott examines the use of the analytical term "gender", its historical emergence, its importance, contribution and shortcoming.  Scott describes that manner in which feminist thinkers began the use the term gender as a key concept for describing and analyzing both historical processes and current social relations between men and women as social and cultural categories.  Gender was first introduced into circulation in the writings of American feminist writers who pointed at the social origins of male vs. female characteristics and emphasized the constructive and normative nature of these distinctions.  Word denoted a rejection of the biological determinism implicit in the use of such terms as ‘sex’ or ‘sexual difference’  In "Gender: a Useful Category of Historical Analysis" Joan Wallach Scott argues that the use of the concept of gender and it theoretical framework enabled a more complex examination of history and the understanding of different times and societies. Week 1: Thinking sociologically about women, gender, and inequality  The use of the term gender, Scott argues, has offered the opportunity to reveal and expose the power structures that create the both the hierarchy between men and women and the justification of the social structure.  Goal is to understand the significance of the sexes, of gender groups in the historical past. To discover the range in sex roles and in sexual symbolism in different societies and periods and to find out what meaning they had and how they functioned to maintain the social order or to promote its change  Needs to pay attention to symbolic systems that is to the ways societies represent gender, use it to articulate the rules of social relationships or construct the meaning of experience – Gender as a category of analysis  Without meaning, there will be no experience. Without processes of signification, there is no meaning  Meaning language is everything – definition of human personality and human history  Through language, gendered identity is constructed  Scott criticizes some prior definitions of the term "gender" and offers her own definition of gender as an organizing principle of social relations, which is based on "sex differences". This organizing principle, Scott asserts, is predominantly used to mark relations of power.  Constitutive element of social relationships based on perceived differences between the sexes, gender involves 4 interrelated elements (aspects of gender)  1. Culturally available symbols that evoke multiple representation E.g. women and men stick figure/ public washroom symbols 2. Normative concepts that set interpretations of the meanings of the symbols that attempt to limit and contain their metaphoric possibilities – take the form of fixed binary opposition eg. Male and female/ masculine and feminine/ women’s authentic ‘traditional’ role 3. Notion of politics to social institutions and organizations e.g. labor market- sex segregated, process of gender construction/ education e.g. all-male, single sex gender constructed through kinship, constructed as well in the economy and the polity 4. Subjective identity e.g. reproduction of gender, examine the ways in which gendered identities are constructed, social organizations and specific cultural representations  One simply reflecting the others  4 elements (culturally available symbols, normative concepts, politics and subjective identity): operates together to define gender  Gender is a primary way of signifying relationships of power Week 1: Thinking sociologically about women, gender, and inequality  Process of constructing gender relationships could be used to discuss class, race, and ethnicity. Clarify and specify how one needs to think about the effect of gender in social and institutional relationships  Scott introduces a methodological framework for tracing, describing and understanding gender formations and the processes which constitute and maintain them.  Changes in the organization of social relationships always correspond to changes in representations of power but the direction of change is not necessarily one way  Gender must be redefined and restructured in conjunction with a vision of political and social equality that includes not only sex but class and race Peterson Gender and Political Economy  Contributions of feminists to political economy with indicating the obstacles feminists face, together with the effects of globalization on the poor  Two categories of feminist understanding of political economy. 1. Empirical and 2. Analytical gender  Empirical gender adds women into the picture but does not challenge the mainstream methods therefore makes it more acceptable than analytical gender  Analytical gender aims of transforming the field into one with more constructivist or poststructuralist orientations, deepens our knowledge and challenging the positivist methods  Economics and political economy, feminists have exposed how men dominate the practice of and knowledge production about what men define as ‘economics’ and how women’s domestic, reproductive caring labor is deemed marginal to (male defined) production and analyses of it, masculinized characteristics  Cultural code of feminization: ‘Women’s work’ and feminized qualities are devalued and deemed economically irrelevant. Characterized as subjective, natural, unskilled and unpaid  New strategy: correcting androcentric bias by adding women and their experience to existing analytical frameworks. Expands on investigating relationships among women’s and men’s identities, activities and inequalities of power  Analytically: gender
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