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SOC366H1 (16)
Chapter 1

SOC366H Chapter 1 Work and Gender

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University of Toronto St. George
Stephen Reid

January 18 , 2013 Chapter 1 Work and Gender What Work Is - Work: activities that produce goods and services for one’s own use or in exchange for pay or support - This definition encompasses 3 kinds of work: 1. Forced work – performed under compulsion and provides little or no pay (i.e. slaves or prisoners) 2. Paid work (market work) 3. Unpaid work (non-market work) – people perform for themselves and others - Forced work still exists o Women and children throughout the world, particularly recent immigrants and racial minorities are especially vulnerable, and thousands are brought into the U.S to work in the sex industry and in the domestic and cleaning industries - An important form of nonmarket work in modern societies is domestic work – work that people do for themselves and members of their household - The distinction between market and nonmarket work is a by-product of industrialization - The average person consumed what he/she produced, and few people were paid for their labour. Only with industrialization and the development of capitalism was work equated with paid activity - As more workers were drawn into paid jobs, people increasingly treated paid work as the only “real” work; the unpaid work that people did in their own homes became devalued or invisible - Defining work as paid production excludes much of the work done by people in developing countries as well as all of the work that women and men perform at home for their families Sex and Gender - Sex: a classification based on human biology. Biological sex depends on a person’s chromosomes and is expressed in reproductive organs and hormones - Gender: a classification that social actors construct that typically exaggerates the differences between females and males Sex Differentiation - Classifying people into categories based on their sex is called sex differentiation - Sex differentiation begins at birth when every new baby is assigned to one of two sexes on the basis of the appearance of the external genitalia - Sex differentiation is essential for a system of inequality - Sex differentiation is usually part of a system of sex inequality – a sex-gender hierarchy – that generally favours males over females Gender Differentiation - Gender differentiation refers to the social processes that create and exaggerate biological differences - Gender differentiation distinguishes activities, interests, and places as either male or female  Together, sex differentiation and gender differentiation ensure that females differ from males in readily noticeable ways  Beginning of the 20th century, male and female infants were dressed alike - usually in white dresses. Then Americans dressed boys in pink and girls in blue. Until 1950 blue became defined as masculine and pink as feminine. Such shifts demonstrate that what is critical for maintaining and justifying unequal treatment between the sexes is not how cultures set the sexes apart but the fact that they do it at all January 18 , 2013 The Social Construction of Gender  The process of transforming males and females - who are vastly more similar than different in biological terms - into two groups that differ noticeably in appearance is part of the social construction of gender  Rewards and punishments induce most people to go along with the social construction of gender and thus conform to cultural definitions of femininity and masculinity The Relationship Between Sex and Gender  The stone analogy: stranger begs for food, says that he has a stone that can make the soup delicious, and tells the villagers that if they bring in more ingredients the soup will be more delicious  Sex resembles the stone and gender the soup  Like the stone, biological sex is the foundation on which societies construct gender  Like the soup, gender depends little on people's biological sex and mostly on how societies embellish it  Cultures often deceive us into thinking that biological sex accounts for the differences between females' and males' behaviour and life outcomes  Gender is a social construction that results from gender differentiation, not a biological inevitability  A primary reason for the gendering of human activities is that it maintains males' advantages  Organizations play a fundamental role in establishing a sex-gender hierarchy that favours men over women  Individual men enjoy the benefits of being male without having to do anything to obtain those benefits. Most men are not even aware of the benefits they derive because of their sex  Men's privileged position in organizations is not universal  Although sex is an important basis for differentiating people into categories, societies use other characteristics as well (race and ethnicity, religion, appearance, age, sexual orientation, economic position)  Just as societies magnify the minor biological differences between males and females, they elaborate small differences between persons based on age, race, and ethnicity Gendered Work  Social scientists call the process of gender differentiation "gendering" and speak of activities attached to one or the other sex as "gendered"  Three features of gendered work: 1. The assignment of tasks based on workers' sex 2. The higher value placed on men's work than on women's work 3. Employers' and workers' social constructions of gender on the job  Societies produce and maintain gender differences - they engage in gendering in a variety of ways: through ideologies that support the gender status quo, through interactions among people, and through reward systems that encourage gender-appropriate behaviours and discourage gender- inappropriate ones  Gender is a system of social relations that is embedded in the way major institutions (including the work place) are organized The Sexual Division of Labour  The assignment of different tasks to women and men - which is termed the sexual division of labour - is a fundamental feature of work January 18 , 2013  Tasks that some societies view as "naturally" female or male are assigned to the other sex at other times or in other places (i.e. most tailors in Middle East, North Africa and India are male, but it is a female occupation
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