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Chapter Doing Gender

SOCC38H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter Doing Gender : Grammatical Gender, Real Presence Of Christ In The Eucharist, Role Theory

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Ann Mullen
Doing Gender

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Doing Gender
Gender as routine, methodical, and recurring accomplishment
"doing" of gender is undertaken by women and men whose competence as members of society is
hostage to its production. Involves a complex of socially guided perceptual, interactional, and micro
political activities that cast a particular pursuits as expressions of masculine and feminine "natures"
View gender as an accomplishment, attention shifts from matters internal to individual and focuses
on interactional and, ultimately, institutional arenas. Individuals who "do" gender.
Situated doing, carried out in virtual or real presence of others who are presumed to be oriented to
its production.
Conceive of gender as an emergent feature of social situations: both as an outcome of and of
rationale for various social arrangements and as a means of legitimating one of the most
fundamental divisions of society
Notion of gender as a role obscures work that is involved in producing gender in everyday activities,
while notion of gender as a display relegates it to periphery of interactions. Participants in
interaction organize their various and manifold activities to reflect or express gender, and they are
disposed to perceive the behaviour of others in a similar light
Sex is a determination made through application of socially agreed upon biological criteria for
classifying persons as females or males
Sex category is application of the sex criteria, but in everyday life, categorization is established and
sustained by socially required identificatory displays that proclaims one's membership in one or the
other category
Gender, activity of managing situated conduct in light of normative conceptions of attitudes and
activities appropriate for one's sex category. Gender activities emerge from and bolster claims to
membership in sex category
Perspectives on Sex and Gender
Western society. Accepted cultural perspective on gender as naturally and unequivocally defined.
Division perceived to be natural and rooted in biology, producing in turn profound psychological,
behavioural, and social consequences. The structural arrangements of a society presumed to be
responsive to these differences
Analyses of se and gender in social sciences. Retain conception of sex-linked behaviours and traits as
essential properties of individuals. "sex differences approach" determines "gender" or respondents
on basis of sound of their voices over phone is also making trait-oriented assumptions. Fixed set of
psychological traits unitary "variable" precludes serious consideration of ways it used to structure
distinct domains of social experience
Role theory. "Sex roles." "Gender roles". How these are learned and enacted. Social dynamic aspect
of role construction and enactment. Roles are situated identities rather than master identities.
Gender has no specific site or organizational context.
Conceptualizing gender as a role makes it difficult to assess its influence on other roles and reduces
its explanatory usefulness in discussions of power and inequality
Gender is not a set of traits, nor a variable, nor a role, but the product social doing of some sort.
Gender itself is constituted through interaction. "Gender display." How gender might be exhibited or
portrayed through interaction, and thus be seen as "natural" while it is being produced as a socially
organized achievement
Gender Display
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Goffman. "essential nature" can be discerned through "natural signs given off or expressed by
them." Femininity and masculinity "prototypes of essential expression yet something that strikes at
most basic characterization of the individual." Expressive behaviour, testimony to our "essential
Displays as highly conventionalized behaviours structured as two-part exchanges of the statement
reply type. Presence or absence of symmetry can establish deference or dominance
"Scheduling" of displays at junctures in activities, to avoid interfering with the activities themselves
Optimal performances. Gender depictions are less a consequence of our "essential sexual natures"
than interactional portrayals of what we would like to convey about sexual natures, using
conventionalized gestures. Human nature gives us the ability to learn to produce and recognize
masculine and feminine gender displays
Gender is socially scripted dramatization of the culture's idealization of feminine and masculine
natures, played for an audience that is well schooled in the presentational idiom. Scheduled
performances presented in special locations, and like plays, they constitute introductions to or time
out from more serious activities
Obscures the effects of gender on a wide range of human activities. Does not seem plausible to say
that we have the option of being seen by others as female or male
Sex, Sex Category, and Gender
Agnes. Transsexual raised as boy. Adopted female identity at 17. underwent sex reassignment
operation few years later.
Developed procedures for passing as "normal, natural female" managed fact that she possessed
male genitalia and that she lacked social resources a girl's biography would provide in everyday
interaction. Analyze and figure out how to act within socially structured circumstances and
conceptions of femininity that women born with appropriate biological credentials come to take for
granted early on.
Make visible what culture has made invisible - accomplishment of gender
o Did not possess socially agreed upon biological criteria for classification as member of female
o Honoured notion that there are "essential" biological criteria that unequivocally distinguish
females from males. Reliability of criteria not beyond question.
o Other cultures acknowledged existence of "cross genders" and possibility of more than 2 sexes
o Genitalia are conventionally hidden from public inspection in everyday life. Yet we continue
through our social rounds to "observe" world of two naturally, normally sexed persons.
Presumption that essential criteria exist and would or should be there if looked for hat provides
basis for sex categorization.
o Take it for granted that sex and sex category are congruent - knowing latter, can deduce rest
Sex Categorization
o Claim to categorical status of female, which se sustained by appropriate identificatory displays
and other characteristics, could be discredited before her transsexual operation if her
possession of a penis became known and after by her surgically constructed genitalia.
o Continually alert to actual or potential threats to security of her sex category
o Preserving her categorization as female. Made easy process of common sense categorization in
everyday life
o Application of membership categories relies son an "if can" test in everyday interaction. If
people can be seen as members of relevant categories, then categorize them that way. Use
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