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Theories of gender_inequalities

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  • 1. Gender Inequalities Theories of Gender Inequality
  • 2. Theories of Gender Inequality
    • Most of the material below is from Haralambos,N. & Holborn,R.
    • “ Themes and Perspectives in Sociology”
    • 2004
    • 1) The Functionalist Murdock argued that the sexual division of labour (men do this, women do that) derives from the hunter-gathering period of history. (which ceased around what is now Turkey & Iraq approx 10,000 years ago-KB)
  • 3. Theories of Gender Inequality
    • 2) Parsons, also a Functionalist, gave what is essentially a biological reason, namely that women are best at such tasks as socialisation because they give birth and are thus “naturally” suited to look after children.
    • 3) In Psychology, in the 1950’s, Bowlby argued for “maternal deprivation”. Stay with you young children or else they would become criminals. So they we are. History, Biology and Psychology concluded that women should do the housework and childcare.
  • 4. Theories of Gender Inequality
    • 4) Oakley’s main point, ( a Feminist) apart from some anthropology which shows that gender roles are not as fixed as these writers assume, was that the mother-housewife role is a cultural construction . (In other areas the slightly broader term is used – a social construction .) It was produced in the latter half of the 19 th . Century. (See Oakley notes on “Housewife” 1974)
  • 5. Theories of Gender Inequality
    • 5) The social construction of male and female roles comes about, argues Oakley, through,
    • Manipulation – e.g. Dressing girls in dresses (often pink today. KB)
    • Canalisation – pointing girls and boys towards gender appropriate toys.
    • Verbal appellation – gender labelling
    • of appearance and tasks.
  • 6. Theories of Gender Inequality
    • 6) Oakley and others (e.g. Sharpe & McRobbie) point to the secondary socialisation which takes place via the mass media and youth sub-culture .
    • (Primary socialisation – inside the home
    • Secondary socialisation – outside the home) (One problem with media influences argument is that it difficult to explain those who reject this socialisation. KB)
  • 7. Theories of Gender Inequality
    • 7) There are different kinds of feminists who differ on
    • the origins of gender inequality,
    • why it still continues and
    • what is to be done about it.
    • One version is
    • Radical Feminists. The big idea here is patriarchy
  • 8. Theories of Gender Inequality
    • 8) Patriarchy is a system which systematically advantages men, i.e. more wealth, power (and….leisure time!)
    • Some Radical Feminists agree with the history as biology line of argument e.g. Firestone argued that biology (pregnancy etc.) led to women being dependent on men. Rowbotham argued that the concept of patriarchy used by writers such as Millett to explain all history was too vague.
  • 9. Theories of Gender Inequality
    • 9) Marxist-Feminists such as Benston uses the concept of reserve army of labour (See WW1 & WW2) Hartmann points out that capitalism might produce low paid jobs but this does not explain, by itself, why women take up these jobs.
    • We still need to use the notion of patriarchy (e.g. local factory which ran a 6.00pm – 10.00pm shift – who volunteered for this?)
  • 10. Theories of Gender Inequality
    • 10) Walby has argued that there is a difference between
    • Private patriarchy - the exploitation of women in the home, men benefit from women’s unpaid labour
    • Public patriarchy – the exploitation of women outside the home.
  • 11. Theories of Gender Inequality
    • 11) Postmodern (don’t ask! KB) feminism
    • rejects the notion of a gender which shares the same interests and instead emphasises the differences between groups of women e.g. lesbian versus heterosexual, younger women versus older women. Like most postmodernists, they want to improve the position of women by deconstructing masculine language.
  • 12. Theories of Gender Inequality
    • 12 Walby’s reply is to argue that this approach minimises the sharp edges of inequality (she uses the word oppression) where it is difficult to discern the use of male violence in relationships (there is usually one student per year on average affected by this), job segregation and the resultant low wages for women.