Chapter 2 – Gender Research: Five Examples
Case 1. The Play of Gender in School Life
When Thorne started her work, it was assumed children were “socialized” into gender roles.
It was assumed two genders, male and female, with children inducted into the norms and expectations of
the appropriate one.
This data was observed through pen/paper questionnaires, but not through actual observation.
Thorne did the observations through fieldwork in 2 primary schools.
Thorne saw gender difference as situational. Created in some situations, overwritten in others.
In the classroom, some situations were gender emphasized (boys vs. girls competitions), and others de-
emphasized (teacher vs. student; aka talk-and-chalk).
Borderwork, when activated, means the group of “Boys and Girls” divide into “The Boys” and “The Girls.”
Often, in a game of chase, boys would chase boys, and girls to girls. However, chasing the opposite sex
resulted in excitement.
Borderwork in adults is seen via jokes, clothes, speech, etc.
Gender difference is made to happen, and can be unmade or altered.
Games of chase, where girls can chase boys and vice-versa, result in everyone being treated equally. This
isn’t always the case.
A rougher version of chase is more common amongst boys, who also “control” more space and are more
Boys also treat girls as contamination (i.e. calling lower statused boys, “Girls,” or playing the cootie
Asymmetry exists within the boys and girls. As some boys interrupt other girls’ games, others do not.
Some boys are high-statused white others are low.
Case 2. Manhood and the Mines
Gender practices were different than the conventional breadwinner/housewife
Men at the mines provided their own domestic labor and had to find new sexual partners