Advancing Gender Research from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries: Volume 12


Table of contents

(22 chapters)
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We seek original manuscripts dealing with new developments in the study of gender informed by a variety of feminist frameworks. Articles that are theoretical, empirical, or applied, dealing with any nation or region, or taking a comparative perspective, are welcome.

The 13 chapters in this volume concern research and theories on 18th to 21st century gender-related issues by 19th and 21st century writers. Our volume looks backward and forward, advancing both research on gender and research on the history of sociology. Gender research is, like many of the subjects discussed in these chapters, post-discipline and post-modern. Our authors include students, mid-career, senior, and emeriti faculty members. While most identify their fields as sociology or sociology and anthropology, one is also a practicing attorney and another is a professor of English. In addition to the United States, authors come from Brazil, Finland, Israel, Italy, and Poland and their subject matter brings additional countries to the mix. They cover a broad spectrum of subjects and events from the Salem Witch Trials and the Crimean War to contemporary national and international politics and policies in such diverse settings as the European Union, Brazilian race tracks, and Israeli Rabbinical Courts. Yet they overlap and expand on each other in many, often surprising, ways.

Harriet Martineau's first and last articles on American society concerned the Salem Massachusetts witch hunts, trials and executions of 1692. She shared the Victorian fascination with psychological phenomena, especially perception and the power of suggestion, and the sociological aspects of community reactions to ‘fitful’ and erratic behavior. Martineau insisted that accusations of witchcraft and the responses to them required objective scientific study. Her accounts of events in Salem are used to examine the role of the clergy and organized religion in the community, citizens’ vulnerability to accusation, anxiety about colonial life in early America, and panic and mob action. Martineau explores the universal implications of the case.

Harriet Martineau's writing about Ireland spanned over 35 years of her career and, as a topic of socio-cultural, political, and economic interest, was second only to her prolific writing on the United States. Through the contexts of her writing (fiction and nonfiction) and of 19th-century Anglo-Irish history, this discussion examines a singular episode in Martineau's life and work, one that highlights her complex views on Ireland and challenges her assumptions about the relentless conundrum popularly termed “the Irish Question.” Martineau's brief epistolary relationship with the young repeal advocate, Mr. Langtrey, helped shape and clarify her thinking about Anglo-Irish relations; subsequently, she produced some of the best writing of her career as a traveling correspondent for the Daily News, reporting on post-famine Ireland. Although on a par with her better-known sociological analyses of America, Martineau's writing about 19th-century Ireland remains comparatively unexamined by scholars of the British Empire, of Victorian intellectual and social history, and of the enduringly contentious Anglo-Irish relations.

Harriet Martineau analyzed the structural characteristics associated with health, sickness, medicine, occupations, and the bureaucratic administration of health care in her later writings. I concentrate here on two major examples of this type of work: England and Her Soldiers (1859a) and Health, Husbandry, and Handicraft (London: Bradbury and Evans, 1861). In this type of study, in contrast to her early non-fiction, her own illnesses and bodily difficulties are invisible. Her sympathy with the sick and ill, nonetheless, helped her maintain her interest in the topic and her sense of mission to document and discuss it.

Martineau was aided in this work through a close alliance with Florence Nightingale and together they created a public sociology with a major social impact on health, war, and occupations delivering health care. Their intellectual and personal alliance is one of the first examples of female sociologists successfully co-ordinating their work for the common good, a model also applicable to their female successors at Hull-House and the University of Chicago.

Although Harriet Martineau's death predates the establishment of cultural studies by nearly a century, the writing of this first woman sociologist and founder of the field, evidences several key ways in which her work anticipates the emergence of the new field. Martineau's social and political philosophy, concern with the emancipation of subordinate groups, and ethnographic method parallels major cultural studies tenets. In line with the quality of life concerns now associated with cultural studies, she identified personal happiness as a major concern for society. She was an advocate of democracy and capitalism as the way forward, as well as of education for all. Martineau argued that work was critical to individual lives and the health of society, and she was adamant about the right for people to freely choose the work they wanted to do. Martineau wrote extensively on the social issues of her time, identifying gender, racial and class tensions, and was particularly concerned with the woman question and the emancipation of women.

Looking at gender within Polish public discourse during the European Union (EU) pre-accession, and ongoing integration, process highlights the importance of symbolic politics to integration, and illuminates ways in which national identity and sovereignty are being renegotiated in response to European unification. This work explores how gendering the analysis improves our understanding of European integration, and points to the emergence of a logic of resistance that is generalizable to both other issues areas and to other contexts, beyond the Polish case. There is an extensive literature that explores resistance to gender equality policy within the nation-states, yet, the specific tensions provoked by the confrontation between supranationalism and nationalism require additional investigation.

Equestrian sports offer a rare opportunity to bring male and female athletes together as competitors and team members, and women's historic participation in this field has been on the rise worldwide. Nonetheless, as our own previous research on the elite world of show jumping has shown, there are a series of cultural and institutional factors that have operated – within the Brazilian context – to restrict horsewomen's access to the highest international levels and thereby acquire the visibility, success and celebrity status that have been awarded to its most prominent male equestrians. Women's entrance into the still very masculine world of horse racing has proven even more difficult. The work presented here, part of a broader ethnographic study of gender, space and sport at the racetrack, looks at the paths taken by young Brazilian women jockeys – in this case, of predominantly poor and working class origin – in their pioneering incursion into the male preserve of the turf. We focus on questions of subjectivity, construction of identities and negotiation of space, insofar as these processes both reflect and contribute to changing gender relations in contemporary Brazilian society.

This chapter explores how power obtained from societal hierarchies of gender, race, and economic status is covertly used by individuals within relationships, further maintaining systems of stratification. The case of marriage is used to examine how social stratification translates into and is reinforced within even the most intimate relationships in terms of control over decision making. Analysis of in-depth interviews with black and white wives in same-race and interracial marriages illustrates how economic inequality affects who makes what decisions within marriage and how race affects what decisions are made. In the midst of income and racial inequality, socialized gender roles dictate which spouse controls certain arenas versus others. Gender norms operate covertly to affect decision making dynamics through mechanisms of availability, areas of knowledge, and preference.

Based on 178 in-depth interviews with evangelical Protestants in 23 states and data from the Evangelical Identity and Influence Survey (n=2,087), this chapter assesses the articulation of evangelical subcultural ideals with gendered family life, democratic individualism, and a two-earner, middle class lifestyle. Compared to other Protestants, evangelicals put more emphasis on husbands’ spiritual leadership, authority, and engaged fatherhood, and interpret wives’ employment as a pragmatic necessity and the outcome of expressive individualism. These ideals, in tension, produce a sense of “invested individualism” that embodies evangelical subcultural identity and facilitates the management and negotiation of gender, work, and family life.

This chapter describes how women who work as pleaders in the Israeli rabbinic courts try to decipher the dissonance between their canonical texts and their modern sensibilities, dividing the interpretive strategies that the pleaders employ to that end into three different categories. The chapter then explores the implications of these findings with respect to theories of agency, feminist consciousness, how law is read, and identity politics (multiculturalism), as well as with respect to issues of value, power, and divorce reform.

This study examines variation in health-related coping strategies among the widowed by variation in bereavement, as modified by self-efficacy, religiosity, social support, and self-rated health. Coping strategies are documented by gender, race, age, and income level, and the interaction of gender and race. Data are from the Changing Lives of Older Couples Study (CLOC), a longitudinal dataset from a random sample of older adults from the Detroit Metropolitan area. Bereavement is related to overall negative coping behavior, specifically to daily cigarette consumption and physical inactivity. However, the effect varies based on the gender, race, and age of the widowed, as well as type of moderator.

Historically, a major focus of women's health research has been on the increasing medicalization of “natural” reproductive processes, with early feminist scholarship in this area largely critical of this trend. Recently, feminist scholars have begun to explore the various ways that women actually experience medicalization. We suggest that current feminist scholarship on medicalization and childbirth remains limited in two ways: (1) much of this research still focuses on privileged women and neglects the experiences of women at various social locations, as well as how oppression and privilege shape those experiences and (2) existing literature does not operationalize what medicalization or “natural” reproductive processes mean for individual women. More specifically, feminist scholars have not investigated systematically how diverse women define and experience their births within the context of a taken-for-granted definitional dichotomy of “natural” versus “medical” birth that characterizes much of the classic and contemporary feminist literature. In this chapter, we explore women's different discussions of “natural” birth and, by default, learn about their definitions of medicalization as well. Drawing from a critical, comparative analysis of qualitative, empirical data gathered from three different groups of childbearing women in two studies – that is, middle-class Caucasian adult women birthing in a hospital setting, middle-class Caucasian adult women birthing in a birthing center setting, and poor African American teen mothers birthing in a hospital setting – we propose a new methodological and conceptual framework for re-examining the meanings of “natural” versus “medical” birth experiences and pushing beyond a strictly gender-based analysis.

Is medically assisted fertilization (with the use of in vitro technology) about “reproductive rights” or about white women's privileges? What is “choice” for white and rich women seems to become a further commodification of the body for women of color and economically disadvantaged women.

Several feminists define reproductive rights by demanding social justice and a type of support for the mothers that does not include expensive technologies, which have a problematic outcome, that of generating a divide between women in the north and women in the south of the world. Some authors also talk about a “division of labor” in reproduction.

The first part of my chapter offers an outline of the historical feminist debate over gender and technology, looking at different positions regarding biotechnologies, and reproductive technologies in a specific way. The second part presents an investigation around the (often racialized) international market of eggs and surrogate mothers in the United States, India and Eastern Europe.

The third part consists of an analysis of few recent studies about the health of women who undergo ovarian hyper-stimulation in order to give eggs as “donation” (under payment); women who offer themselves as surrogate mothers and the children who have been conceived with in vitro fertilization, specifically with heterologue forms (egg donation or surrogate motherhood).

This chapter looks at the discourse in advertising for psychotropic drugs (N=200) in Scandinavian medical journals in 2005. The discourse in the ads displaying users (n=89) conveys a gendered image of mental health. The ads promote these drugs as life-enhancement drugs – for handling the lifestyle of a postmodern self – but draw on gendered scripts for promotion of a “healthy” self. This finding suggests that although the neurobiological paradigm prevails, the pictures of users in psycho-pharmaceutical advertising continues to depend on culturally fixed gendered scripts.

About the authors

Pages 291-296
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Miriam Adelman, who holds the M. Phil. in sociology from New York University and Doctorate in Human Sciences from Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, has been Professor of Sociology at the Universidade Federale do Paraná (UFPR), since 1992. She is responsible for initiating the first gender studies and research activities at that institution, as co-founder of its “Núcleo de Estudos de Gênero,” begun in 1994 and continuing today as the major institutional space for promoting women's and gender studies at the UFPR. In addition to current research and teaching in undergraduate and postgraduate Social Science and Sociology programs at the UFPR, she is also an active member of the Brazilian gender studies community and participates on the Editorial Board of the Revista de Estudos Feministas, one of Brazil's two major feminist academic journals. She has published numerous articles in scientific journals in Brazil and abroad, as well as book chapters on topics ranging from feminist theory, post-colonialism and contemporary sociology to women in sport and gender in film. She has one edited volume (Gênero Plural: um Debate Multi-disciplinar, 2002, Editora UFPR, with Celsi Bronstrup Silvestrin) and is currently organizing another, on gender representations in film.

Subject Index

Pages 297-302
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Publication date
Book series
Advances in Gender Research
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN