Gender is one of the great paradoxes today, while assumed to be an inalterable consequence of biological forces, the actual practice of gender varies greatly across cultures and societies. This course will provide a sociological approach to the social construction of gender. Critical questions will focus on how representations of masculinity and femininity, while informing our sense of identity, can also promote inequality in institutions, ranging from the family to the economy, and to religion. Although gender is experienced and performed in everyday life, the presence of powerful gender norms suggests that gender is also a social product. Additionally, we will explore how social categories such as sexuality, race, and nationality intersect with gender to produce new forms of oppression and marginality, yet at the same time, creating potent alliances and movements advocating for greater gender equality and diversity – especially amongst/for gender nonconforming individuals.
Semester at Sea provides us with a unique opportunity to experience gender in all its diversity. The differences in how gender is practiced challenge our tightly held assumption of gender as a binary, itself a legacy of Western colonialization. Unpacking the relationship between gender and power in the Global South allows us to question the broader sociological conditions within which gender is constructed.
Field WorkCountry: Croatia
Date: February 2, 2022