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University of Toronto St. George

Week 3 Starting Points Chapter 5 – Gender Relations Chapter Outline  Biological differences between male and female probably the basis for social differentiation of the sexes.  Sexism  The perceived superiority of one sex (most often men) over the other (usually women)  Gender  The expectations of behaviour or appearance that we describe as masculine or feminine; a set of social expectations. Ways of looking at gender through sociological lenses:  Note: all these explanations are compatible with one another. Each focuses on a different aspect of the rise, maintenance, and decline of gender inequality. Feminist approach most influential, though. Functionalism  Functionalists ask of every social arrangement: what function does it perform for society as a whole?  Here, how does gender inequality contribute to the wellbeing of society as a whole? o Gendered divisions of labour are the most effective and efficient way to carry out society’s tasks of reproduction and socialization. o Maybe even evolutionary survival value for the human race. Critical Theories  Always ask: who holds power and benefits from a particular social arrangement?  Here, who is best served by gender inequality? o Marx: families are the best and cheapest way to raise new workers, and women provide the cheapest family labour, as mothers. Beneficial to capitalists. o Feminist: women have a different experience from men and may be exploited by men of their own class, as well as by capitalists. Thus, gender inequality mainly serves the interests of men who have someone as subservient to them as they are to their own bosses.  Patriarchy – men are the main and universal cause of women’s oppression Symbolic Interactionism  Ask: How is a social arrangement symbolized?  E.g. How is gender inequality negotiated, symbolized, and communicated in our society?  Presumption is that inequalities arise where social differences have been symbolized, communicated, and negotiated (i.e. made into something that is taken for granted by the population at large). o Thus, concerned with the ways that gender differences become stable gender inequalities  Sexual double standard  The expectation that women will feel or behave differently from men in sexual matters. Social Constructionist Approach  Ask: When and how did the arrangement emerge?  Here, when did gender inequality emerge in a particular society, what events preceded this emergence, and what individuals or groups were especially instrumental in this process of moral entrepreneurship? By what steps has gender equality begun to emerge? Types of Feminist Sociology  Feminist theory usually viewed as a branch of critical theory. Different types.  Postulates that most gender differences are socially constructed. Should be abolished for moral reasons.  One of the most important contributions of feminist sociology has been to forefront the importance of taken-for-granted everyday life as a window on important social facts about the distribution of power. Liberal Marxist Radical Socialist Anti-racist/ Postmodern General Believes men and Believes women Believes men and Combines Marxist Criticizes essentialism women are are the first women are and radical in other feminisms (not essentially the same. exploited class. different. feminisms all women are the Concerned primarily Subordination of Patriarchy is not same, no single source with equal rights. women comes specific to of inequality). Some with the advent of capitalism; rather, men and women share private property. it is universal. oppression in complex ways. Why does Discriminatory Capitalism and Patriarchy Capitalism and Multiple inequalities: gender legislation bars private ownership patriarchy race, class, gender, inequality women from entering sexuality, ability, etc. exist? public life These inequalities overlap in unique ways for different women. Key issues Right to vote, access Male control of Inequality as a Post colonial to education and paid female sexuality. result of the exploitation of women employment, pay Women’s intersection of of colour equity reproductive race, class, and capacity. gender. Inequality in paid and unpaid work, in the home and outside. How are we Do not change the Need to change Need direct action, Attack both No single solution for to fix structure of society, the social political patriarchy and all women. Need to inequalities just remove structure: for opposition, radical capitalism. address differences ? legislation barring example abolish social change. among women in a women from public capitalism. non-universalizing, life. The best women, non-essentialist way. like the best men, will rise to the top. Classic Studies: The Sociology of Housework (Ann Oakley)  Addresses the misconception that housework is not just unskilled labour, and thus worthy of little attention.  RESULT: housework began to emerge as a type of legitimate, difficult, and worthwhile work, not just the labour of love.  Drew attention to domestic inequality and its relation to other forms of gender inequality.  Studied a small sample of middle and working class homemakers. All hated housework but viewed homemaking as central to their identity.  Oakley concluded that women are disempowered and imprisoned by their beliefs about the proper role of women, especially of mothers, in modern society. Despite their unhappiness, many housewives feel obliged by their culture to play a basically alienating and frustrating role. They have been socialized by a patriarchal gender ideology into accepting slavery in marriage and motherhood. o Housework is the visible symbol of this submission. Gendered Socialization  Sex  the biological characteristics that make a person male or female; a biological fact at birth.  Kids learn about what being a boy or girl means through their families, through a process called socialization. o Kids are also socialized into gender roles by learning to cooperate with family members of the opposite sex. o Kids are also socialized at school. E.g. splitting a class into boys vs. girls for an activity leads to a belief that gender is a basis for distinction among people.  Reference groups – groups from which we gain ideas about proper behaviour.  Hidden curriculum – the types of courses and subjects that girls and boys are subconsciously encouraged to pursue. In this way, schools develop gender regimes, which produce masculinity and femininity and attach certain practices to these labels. This also varies between social classes. Mass Media  Mass media reinforces gender stereotypes. Also, objectifies women. Men are expected to be successful and career-driven. o Move towards less macho men in ads and such – some argue this is the sexualisation of men (i.e. portraying metrosexual men) The Beauty Standard  Appearance issues and conformation to beauty norms interest sociologists because they shed so much light on the boundaries between deviant and conforming behaviour and the measures people take to control and shame other people. o This forces women to take a stand on “natural aging”  Appearance norms – ideal features that our society values. Often measurable (e.g. dress size). o We look at deviations from the norm as signs of rebellion, carelessness, or ignorance. May lead to mistrust, stigmatization, and exclusion. o Since the 1950s, there’s been a growing inconsistency between real and ideal bodies in North America. o Women have gotten thinner and more toned; men have gotten more muscular. Reality: opposite. Both men and women have gotten fatter. o Mass media doesn’t show us reality; fantasies about the ideal male and female are different fantasies. Not unisex. Conflict between the sexes  Divorce and break-up rates have risen since the 1960s.  Family provides no more guarantee of stable bonding across the sexes than it does of bonding between husbands and wives.  Glass ceiling  any sex-based barrier to equal opportunity for hiring and promotion. The Gendering of crime  Men (esp young men) are far more likely than anyone else to commit crimes. Also, to take dangerous risks. More likely than women to commit every kind of crime.  Women are less likely to break society’s rules in an obvious way (like crime), and are more likely to internalize their disappointment and frustration in a variety of forms, esp depression, physical illness, or addiction. Classic Studies – Men and Women of the Corporation (Rosabeth Kanter)  Argued that the barriers women meet and roles they play in large corporations today are mainly a result of their numerical minority, not their sex. o Book challenged many assumptions about the traditional system of merit and reward within large organizations. o Showed that when women are denied authority in organizations, they behave in “womanly ways”; when they have authority, they behave in “manly ways”. o Argued that structural and situational aspects, not individual characteristics, limit people’s careers. o Weak, unproductive behaviour is the result of holding a weak position, not a natural difference of sexes. o A woman’s sense of self reflects her real opportunities.  Basis of the work o Survey of male managers, female secretaries, and wives of managers. o Found women’s (secretaries’ and wives’) fortunes depended on the fortunes of their male boss/husband. They were powerless. o “Tokenism theory” – predicts that members of a social group who are outnumbered by members of another group will suffer adverse effects, including greater stress at work. The more outnumbered, the more pressure the person feels. The more equal the social groups’ numbers, the more communication between the groups and better everyone feels. Gender influences in the workplace  People usually learn workplace etiquette in combination with gender etiquette.  Women still earning less than men, etc. The Earnings Gap  Though more Canadian women are gaining a higher education, they’re still being educated largely for female-oriented disciplines and will likely work in domains that traditionally pay lower wages. o Wage gap between men and women still remains. o RESULT: women have to support themselves and other for longer and with less money (women live longer and are more likely to support family members).  On average, women amass 2/3 of the wealth men do throughout their lives.  Because they’re most likely to have dependent children with them, women under 40 years of age are at the highest risk of falling into poverty, and once they do, there is considerable risk they’ll remain poor for a prolonged period.  Any profession traditionally dominated by men that women enter in large numbers sees a rapid decline in the profession’s prestige and income. Conversely, when large numbers of men enter a profession traditionally dominated by women, on opposite trend is evident. Gender and immigration  Today, scholars are more likely to examine female migration as a complex and gender-specific experience based on several factors. Classic Studies – The Double Ghetto (Pat and Hugh Armstrong)  Modern Canadian women lead captive, segregated, ghettoized lives.  Women occupy two ghettos: the ghetto at work and the one at home.  This book documents first the fact that average Canadian women are segregated in paid jobs that are less secure and less well-paid than those of average Canadian men, and this gender gap is narrowing only slowly. Second, seeks to explain gendered segregation theoretically by comparing three explanatory models: biological determinism, idealism, and materialism. o Explain gender segregation is socially constructed, not biologically predetermined. o Argue that capitalist relations of production must account for the gendered segregation in paid work. o By its nature, capitalism needs insecure, poorly paid workers and a reserve army of unemployed people. o Thus, women are important because they reproduce and nurture the next generation of workers. Also, provide unpaid care and support for the paid workforce in the form of housework, preserving a healthy, profit-making workforce at no cost to the capitalist. Third, women move in and out of the wor
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