Gender as a social structure: Theory wrestling with activism

  • Risman B
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Abstract

In this article, the author argues that we need to conceptualize gender as a social structure, and by doing so, we can better analyze the ways in which gender is embedded in the individual, interactional, and institutional dimensions of our society. To conceptualize gender as a structure situates gender at the same level of general social significance as the economy and the polity. The author also argues that while concern with intersectionality must continue to be paramount, different structures of inequality have different constructions and perhaps different influential causal mechanisms at any given historical moment. We need to follow a both/and strategy to understand gender structure, race structure, and other structures of inequality as they currently operate while also systematically paying attention to how these axes of domination intersect. Finally, the author suggests we pay more attention to doing research and writing theory with explicit attention to how our work can indeed help transform as well as inform society.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Feminist theory
  • Gender theory
  • Social change
  • Social structure

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Authors

  • Barbara J. Risman

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