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Key Variables

in Social Investigation

Edited by Robert G. Burgess

Routledge & Kegan Paul

London, Boston and Henley
14 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7PH, England
9 Park .Street, Boston, Mass. 02108, USA and
Broadway House, Newtown Road,
Notes on contributors vii
Henley on Thames, Oxon RG9 1EN, England Preface x
Set in 10 on 12 pt Baskerville Introduction Robert G. Burgess 1

0 3
by Inforum Ltd, Portsmouth
and printed in Great Britain Age Janet Finch 12
by St Edmundsbury Press Ltd,
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk Gender D .H .J. Morgan 31
This collection: British Sociological Association 1986 Race and ethnicity M artin Bulmer 54
Chapter 1 : British Sociological Association 1986
Chapter 2 : Janet Finch 1986 Health and illness Sally Macintyre 76
Chapter 3 : D.H.J. Morgan 1986
Chapter 4 : Martin Bulmer 1986
Chapter 5 : Sally Macintyre 1986
Education Robert G. Burgess 99
Chapter 6 : Robert G. Burgess 1986 Social class and occupation Catherine Marsh 123
Chapter 7 : Catherine Marsh 1986
Chapter 8 : Kate Purcell 1986
Chapter 9 : Stanley Parker 1986
Work, employment and unemployment
Chapter 10 : David Jary 1986 Kate Purcell 153
Chapter 11 : C.G. Pickvance 1986
Chapter 12 : Martin Bulmer and Robert G. Burgess 1986 Leisure Stanley Parker 178
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Politics D avid Jary 200
Main entry under title:
Voluntary associations C.G. Pickvance 223
Key variables in social investigation.
Includes indexes. Do concepts, variables and indicators interrelate?
1. Sociology Research Addresses, essays, lectures. M artin Bulmer and Robert G. Burgess 246
2. Social sciences Research Addresses, essays, lectures.
I. Burgess, Robert G. Nam e index 266
HM48.K46 1986 301'.072 85-2302
British Library CIP data available
Subject Index 275
ISBN 0-7100-9901-0
ISBN 0-7102-0621-6 (pbk.)
G ender (3)
D. H. J. Morgan

Gender, as a key variable, is both ubiquitous and hidden. It is
ubiquitous in that it is one of the most common face-sheet variables
(Stacey, 1969, xiii) and yet hidden in that, despite this common
ness, it is often ignored or buried beneath some other more inclusive
category such as children, rate-payers, professionals, or stu
dents. The higher realms of sociological theory remain, apparently,
gender-free; the higher the level of generality the more likely it is that
gender differentiation will yield to more abstract categories such as
role, social actor, organization, class and system. Feminist
theory may, in part, be seen as an insistence that gender belongs up
there with the more familiar categories of sociological discourse; that,
indeed, it exists at the highest levels of generality. Moreover, gender
enters the complete process of research itself, the form and style of the
project in its various stages from start to completion as an article or
It would seem, therefore, that the central question in the treatment
of gender as a key variable is one of when it is to be used and it would
also appear to be the case that a persuasive case could be made for the
response, always. The questions which are raised elsewhere in this
volume - questions of identification, operationalization, choice of
appropriate indicators, grouping and classification and measurement
would appear to be of little significance in the case of gender. And yet,
is there not something in the very simplicity of the operations which
enable us to allocate items to columns labelled M en and Women
that should make us pause for thought? W hat kinds of assumptions
are being made when a set of data is analysed according to sex? Note,
that here I have shifted from use of the term gender to the more
familiar face-sheet term, sex. The meanings and implications of this
32 D .H .J. Morgan Gender 33
distinction will be considered later. chers would reject, or at least be suspicious of, the very language
The purpose of this chapter is not so much to argue the case for which speaks o fvariables (Graham, 1983), it is the activities of such
gender as a key variable. In the light of the many volumes of feminists that have problematized the use of gender as a key variable,
theoretical and empirical work that have been written in recent years1 taking it out of the realm of the taken-for-granted.
that much can almost be taken for granted, although the continued
omission of gender in sociological studies evidenced later in this ^Ty'em alel M ale; Woman! Man
chapter should remind us of the need to translate this work into
routine sociological practice. Rather, the questions which will be The familiar dichotomous approach to gender makes for simplicity in
asked here hinge around the various senses in which gender can be coding, dont knows rarely, if ever constitute a problem, and com
understood to be a key variable and the way in which it is used. parability and reproducibility is assumed and assured. This dicho
tomous approach to sex and/or gender reflects and is reflected in
theoretical orientations, most notably Parsonian functionalism
Gender as a key variable? although it is also part of the taken-for-granted world of much
Marxist and feminist theory (Matthews, 1982).
Gender is one of fourteen or so variables which are most likely to be This distinction between sex and gender is stated by Oakley in
recorded by interviewers or required in questionnaires, along with these terms:
age, occupation, place of birth, type of dwelling and so on (Gittus, Sex refers to the biological division into female and male;
1972; Stacey, 1969). Nor need its use be confined to quantitative genders to the parallel and socially unequal division into
research; ethnographers are likely to record the gender of subjects femininity and masculinity.
observed in field situations. At the simplest level, therefore, gender (Oakley, 1981a, p. 41)
may be a key variable as part of the business of descriptive docu
mentation, to use Finchs phrase (Finch, this volume, p. 13). In Oakley maintains that this usage is well established and is certainly
breaking down the data by age and sex, theorizing is usually implicit repeated, with some slight variations, elsewhere in the literature.
and unexamined, a conformity to established practice or to a vague Matthews, in a critical discussion of the use of gender in socio
sense that they might be important. logical research, cites the following distinction by Gould and Kern-
In terms of Finchs second category, the use of gender as an Danicls:
explanatory variable, theory plays a more positive and explicit role. Sex is defined as the biological dichotomy between female
Here the assumption is that gender has some kind of casual signifi and male, chromosomally determined and, for the most part,
cance, as for example where gender may be linked to attitudes about unalterable, while gender is that which is recognised as
welfare, support for a political party or chur-eh attendance. In many masculine and feminine by a social world.
cases, of course, gender is not treated alone but in combination with (Matthews, 1982, p. 31)
other variables as, for example, where Lupton treats gender as part of
a cluster of variables, explaining the presence or absence of collec There does, however, seem to be some element of choice as to which
tive norms output and earnings on the shop floor (Lupton, 1963). biological factors may be selected. Eichler writes:
In addition to being part of everyday descriptive documentation Biological sex is determined in different ways: chromosomal
and to its deployment as an explanatory variable, genders status is sex, gonadal sex, internal accessory organ, external genital
also enhanced by political and ideological considerations. Feminist appearance. In addition, the assigned sex and gender role
sociology has reminded us that the inclusion or non-inclusion of may be consistent or inconsistent with the other determi
gender in a research project is as much a political decision as a nants of sex.
theoretically-based choice. In this connection, one central and all (Eichler, 1980)
pervasive area of research has been into the sexual division of labour
(Purcell, this volume). In spite of the fact that many feminist resear Similarly, Kessler and M acKenna list a variety of ways in which
34 D .H .J. Morgan Gender 35
biologists make such distinctions (Kessler and MacKenna, 1978, raises the challenging perspective that some folk classifications may
p. 69). not necessarily conform to a dichotomous model of sex/gender.3
The assumptions behind the sex/gender division would seem Attempts to force anomalies (such as the berdache of some North
therefore, to be as follows: American Indian societies) into these dichotomous models may do
a) A distinction between the biological and the social/cultural; violence to local understandings (M artin and Voorhies, 1975, pp. 86
b) two parallel dichotomies in each sphere: female and male; femi 100; Kessler and Mackenna, 1978, pp. 2432).
nine and masculine; W hatever distinctions are made between the biological and cultu
c) in the case of Oakley and some others, a recognition of the ral it would seem to be important to recognize that there is constant
socially unequal nature of the latter dichotomy. interaction between them. Biological facts, as Matthews argues, are
themselves socially constructed (Matthews, 1982, p. 31) in terms of
It is stated that the dichotomies are parallel although the geometric which facts are selected as being decisive and according to the degree
al metaphor is not intended to be taken literally. There are interrela of significance allocated to these constructed facts. If certain distinc
tionships between the biological and the cultural (Reid and Wormald, tions between men and women came to be seen as crucial, this itself is
1982, p. 2), although these are not always clearly stated. a cultural fact and has its consequences as such, although this is the
There are, therefore, a variety of difficulties with the sex/gender outcome of a complex interaction between the biological and the
division and for genders status as a key variable. In the first place, cultural, rather than the primary assertion of the former. Birdwhis-
the distinction, with its proposed parallelism between female/male tells own analysis of different facial expressions and bodily postures
and feminine/masculine, continues to maintain, to take for granted, a of men and women in contemporary American society provides a neat
dichotomous view of gender differences. This, Matthews argues illustration of the interaction between the cultural and the anatomical
(ibid., p. 30), leads to the reification of gender and gender categories (which become socially defined as biological differences), the post
and the reproduction of sex (i.e. the biological) in spite of the ures and expressions deriving meaning from interactional situations
emphasis on the cultural and social. rather than through any inherent quality as sexual signals (ibid.).
Biology, however, itself provides no clear warrant for a dichoto In contemporary society there is not one version of gender dif
mous view. Birdwhistell, for example, distinguishes between prim ferentiation but a range of versions available for use by different
ary, secondary and tertiary sexual characteristics, the first referring to persons in different situations. At a time of considerable change in
the clear demarcation between the p rodu ction o f ova and spermato gender definitions and identities, overlaps and similarities become
zoa, the second to anatomical features and the third to social and often more im portant than differences (Lee and Stewart, 1976, p. 29).
cultural constructions. Secondary sexual characteristics, he argues To adhere to a dichotomous construction of gender differences is to
(including bone structure, distribution of body hair, and so on) are run the risk of reproducing, often unconsciously, stereotypical
distributed according to two overlapping bell-shaped curves rather assumptions about men and women and of failing to do justice to the
than to a single bimodal distribution (in Lee and Stewart, 1976, complex, paradoxical and sometimes contradictory understandings
p. 315).2 Neitz, noting that sex/gender distinction originated in the of gender in contemporary society.
study of transexuals, argues for seeing both as continuous variables
(Neitz, 1982).
It is, in fact, often in culture where we find the sharper dichotomous
differentiations; we have only to think of the ways in which children ^2 JpAasculine/Feminine
make very distinct differentiations between men and women on the If the female/male or man/woman distinction tends to be nominal
basis of clothing rather than genitalia (Oakley, 1981a, pp. 82-3). and dichotomous, the feminine/masculine distinction would seem to
Transexuals and transvestites may often, at some considerable cost, hr more obviously continuous and ordinal. It is part of our common
adhere to a highly rigid and stereotyped version of sex and gender laken-for-granted assumptions about gender that there are some
differences (Bogdan, 1974; Eichler, 1980, pp. 72-90; Kessler and M ac 'feminine men and some masculine women; that, in other words the
Kenna, 1978). Looking at the matter in a cross-cultural perspective two scales do have some degree of independence (Eichler, 1980,
36 D .H .J. Morgan Gender 37
pp. 63-9). In terms of sociological research, however, the distinctions these values are not unproblematically mapped on to persons defined
feminine/masculine are rarely overtly used although assumptions as being either men or women. There is often a recognition that
about these distinctions may be built into sociological analysis. Social feminine and masculine traits could coexist in various mixes within
anthropologists have, however, used the terms often treating the the same individual. Nevertheless, use of measures and models of
degree and kinds of variation as topics for investigation in cross- femininity and masculinity may still tend to reproduce and perpetu
cultural research. Best known is M argaret M eads classic discussion ate notions of gender differences which tend to the bipolar rather than
of the different constructions of sex and temperament in three primi emphasizing points of similarity and overlap (Lee and Stewart, 1976,
tive societies (Mead, 1935). More recently, Sanday (using a much' 31, p. 361). As Eichler points out, even the concept of androgyny
more comprehensive range of societies for comparative purposes) has assumes that there exist some standards of femininity/masculinity
looked at the degree and nature of sexual differentiation and patterns against which to record these deviations (Eichler, ibid.).
of dominance, differing constructions of masculinity and femininity Sociologically, measures of masculinity and femininity are little
and the way in which these can be related to types of economy and the used, at least not as key variables although it is open to question as to
sexual scripts provided by religious symbolism (Sanday, P.R., 1981; the degree to which the gender labels, female and male, presuppose
see also Lee and Stewart, 1976, Part 11). One of the difficulties with some taken for granted notions of gender characteristics. Until fairly
much anthropological research is the importing of Western models recently, for example it has been assumed that women are more
into the analysis of other societies. The use of the clause differences as passive and more conservative and this explains a variety of alleged
conventionally understood in contemporary/Western society can differences between men and women in terms of industrial and
only be a partial solution for it still assumes that the society under political attitudes and behaviour. Closer analysis more often than not
investigation has some understanding as to what it means to make calls these assumptions into question, finding them to be minimal or
gender differentiation (albeit different from ours) and that, indeed, untrue, dependent upon particular sets of circumstances or a reflec
the observer has an accurate model of our own models of gender tion of other differences (Cunnison, 1983; Edgell and Duke, 1983;
differentiation. In short, we have a set of traits - aggressiveness, Purcell, 1979; Randall, 1982; Wormald, 1982). Where these terms
passivity, etc. - and a polarity, feminine-masculine, the traits being have been more systematically investigated it has been to examine
allocated to the appropriate gender categories. While biological their deployment in ideological constructions, in other words the uses
females and males may not necessarily manifest the expected traits - and representations of gender traits in everyday life, especially in
indeed may manifest the opposite or may share many of the traits - it literature and the media. Thus there have been studies of the pre
is assumed that the actual labels, feminine-masculine, do have some sentation of gender stereotypes in school textbooks (Childrens Rights
wider meaning. Workshop, 1976), in womens magazines (Ferguson, 1982), and in
The other areas in which the masculine-feminine distinction is used advertising (Milium, 1975). Goffmans study seeks to show how
is in social psychology which, like social anthropology, may impinge gender advertisments work (Goffman, 1979).
upon sociology at various points. A variety of measures of masculinity Generally, however, whether we are concerned with anthropo
and femininity have been drawn up and used for a variety of purposes logical, social psychological or sociological studies, the central dilem
(Eichler, 1980, pp. 60-72). Brim, for example shows how masculinity ma remains: how is it possible to use the labels feminine and
and femininity may vary according to a set of variables associated masculine without falling into some kind of essentialism? This
with siblings; number of siblings, gender of siblings, birth order in problem may also confront feminist-inspired work. Thus, for exam
terms of gender, and so on. The initial measures of femininity and ple, if it is argued that science (Easlea, 1981) or social science has
masculinity are based upon judges assessments of the gender of some kind of masculinist bias how far is it possible to use this label
particular traits and whether the traits are valued positively or without in some way perpetuating the very stereotypes that a feminist
negatively (Brim, 1958). In the case of Brims study, and several inspired study seeks to undermine?
others of this kind, it is made clear that the authors are dealing with (it
is assumed) relatively culture-bound constructions of femininity and
masculinity rather than biological givens and that, to some extent,
38 D .H .J. Morgan Gender 39
however, has yet to feed back into more general assumptions about
^3 ySexuality gender or uses of gender labels in sociological analysis.
Associated with the question of gender, although not a key variable in
the face-sheet sense of the word, is the question of sexuality. It may
be viewed, very simplistically, as part of the package of constructed (X ^ h e sexual division o f labour
gender identities. Thus part of the social definition of femininity is a As Purcell argues (this volume), the sexual division oflabour is a key
construction of female sexuality, that of masculinity a construction of feature of this and almost all other societies. The labour market, for
male sexuality. Indeed, in practice it is probably very difficult to' example, is significantly differentiated in terms of gender. This is true
distinguish between the more general characterizations of male and whether we are considering the differential distribution of men and
female traits and more specific assumptions about their sexualities. women as between particular jobs or as between different hierarchi
The aggressiveness associated with masculinity, for example, is often cally ordered statuses (Murgatroyd, 1982; Purcell, this volume;
associated, directly or indirectly, with the assumed role attributed to Webb, 1982).
the male in sexual intercourse and to the role of the phallus. The sexual division oflabour, however, also addresses itself to the
For a long time, the mapping of characteristics associated with distinction between home and work (and to associated distinctions
certain forms of sexuality on to men and women was seen as relatively such as that between the public and the private) and to distinctions
unproblematic in sociological research. Alternatively, a male model within the home, as well as to distinctions within the labour market.
of sexuality was held to stand for sexuality in general. Studies of As such it should be seen as a crucial variable in the understanding of
premarital sexual experience, for example, were based upon scales, a contemporary society. It is a matter of gender rather than sex (to
ranging from kissing and petting to genital penetration, which re return to the conventional distinction) in that it is socially and
flected a highly phallocentric view of the world (Schofield, 1968, politically constructed although the construction often makes use of
Chapter 3). In more recent years, however, studies have concentrated biological notions to justify the maintenance of any particular gender
more thoroughly on the ways in which sexuality, male and female, order. The use and understanding of sexuality also may be a crucial
have been socially constructed (Brake, 1982; Edwards, 1981; Fou feature in the maintenance of the gender order in a particular context,
cault, 1979). The emphasis has grown to be more on sexualities, male whether it be at home, at work (Purcell, 1982) or in the interstitial
and female, heterosexual and homosexual. Douglass study of the areas of the street (Hanmer and Saunders, 1983). The sexual division
nude beach (Douglas et al., 1977), Rasmussen and K uhns study of oflabour may be seen as a crucial element in the understanding of the
massage parlours (Rasmussen and Kuhn, 1977) and Cloyds study of class structure of a capitalist society. Wright and his associates, for
the market-place bar (Cloyd, 1977), direct our attention away from example, conclude that: a sizable majority of the U.S. working class
essentialist notions of sexuality and sexual signals and focus attention is composed of women and minorities (Wright et al., 1982; also
on to the interactional situations in which sexuality is negotiated. Wright and Perrone, 1977).
Humphreys rejection of the distinctions masculine/feminine and Gender is an important variable when considering such questions
aggressive/passive in favour of the more objective inserter/insertee as unemployment (Walby, 1983) or social mobility (Rosenfeld, 1978;
distinction in his study of the tearoom trade (Humphreys, 1970, Payne et al., 1983). To fail to consider the sexual division oflabour
pp. 51-2) shows a willingness to depart from stereotypes of homo and its part in the class structure has been characterized as a form of
sexual behaviour as does his classification in terms of trade, am- intellectual or official sexism (Acker, 1973; E.O.C., 1980; Oakley
bisexuals, gays and closet queens (ibid., Chapter 6). Ponse, and Oakley, 1979).
similarly, writes of women-related women recognizing that they
might call themselves lesbians, straights, bisexuals or celibates
(Ponse, 1978, p. 3). Perhaps here, more than in other aspects of the
study of gender, the variety of human sexual expression, definition
and understanding is coming to be recognized, and the inadequacy of
bipolar or bimodal models has been underlined. This understanding,
40 D .H .J. Morgan Gender 41
Issues in the use o f gender which social investigators and lay persons make gender categoriza
Q ie c o g n izin g gender
Thus, one important issue in the use of gender as a key variable is the When to use?
extent to which its use is based upon and thereby serves to perpetuate . . . the value of feminist critiques to the discipline of
gender stereotypes. But there are several other issues that deserve sociology lies in the accumulating evidence that gender is not
attention. In the first place, there is the apparently obvious question a good index to understand the social world.
of recognizing gender. To develop the issue let us consider one (Matthews, 1982, p. 29)
co m m on w a y o f assigning an individual to a social class category:
The case for not treating gender as a key variable might in some ways
(1) .An Individual has (2) An Occupation which is (3) Coded as W orking Class seem to be as strong as the case for so treating it. Much of the
M iddle Class argument would seem to hinge around the meaning of words like
Skilled importance and use. Matthews is presumably referring to the
Unskilled, etc. cumulative traditions of social psychological and sociological re
search that have gradually whittled down supposed gender differ
This highly simplified scheme states that an individual is expected to ences to two or three dealing with spatial and reading ability and
provide some kind of occupational title which is then, following with aggressiveness (Lee and Stewart, 1976; Frieze et al., 1981,
standardized, laid down procedures, coded in more general class or pp. 45-68). There may further be a bias towards the publication of
occupational group terms. Similarly, in the case of age, an individuals significant differences thus condemning to obscurity the greater
date of birth is the basis for the assignment of that individual to some number of non-significant differences (Frieze et al., 1981, pp. 513).
more generalized age categories (Finch, this volume). To put the matter crudely, search for differences and you can find
differences; test for similarities and you find similarities. Thus M at
W hat happens in the case of gender? Here: thews would seem to be concerned with those areas of gender research
(1 ) An Individual has (2) (?) which are (3) Coded as Female where the investigator is either attempting to establish some essential
M ale gender differences or is using an implicit understanding of these
supposed gender differences for subsequent analysis.
In this case, Stage (2) appears as a kind of black box but where, it is Another kind of research which would presumably come under
assumed, the common-sense assumptions of investigators are Matthews strictures is the kind of study where gender characteristics
accorded some degree of licence. Gender is either self-assigned or are read off from the fact that a set of people in a particular situation
assigned by the investigator, presumably on the basis of a variety of are observed to be either men or women. This may be said to be a
non-verbal signals (Frieze et al., 1981, pp. 321-34). The fact that this feature of some studies of work and workshop behaviour where, for
operation is so often smooth and untroubled should not blind us to the example, the presupposition may be that gender makes a difference
fact that this business of gender assignment is a remarkable cultural and that observed behaviour will be interpreted in terms of the
achievement (Kessler and McKenna, 1978). The very stability and characteristics that the workers are supposed to bring into the
untroubled nature of gender assignment is itself a valuable clue to our workplace as wives, mothers, daughters etc. (Morgan, 1981). Resear
understanding of the character of gender itself, namely that an chers may, therefore, endorse a managerial perspective that women
individual has a gender which is unproblematically recognized and at work somehow present some kind of problematic status. M ens
not liable to change. It is clear that this is still a relatively under workshop behaviour will be understood as having something to do
researched area; studies of transexuals and transvestites (Bogdan, with class, womens workshop behaviour is something to do with
1974; Eichler, 1980; Garfinkel, 1967; Kessler and McKenna, 1978) gender (Feldberg and Glenn, 1979). W hat is perhaps interesting in a
need to be complemented by studies of the rules and procedures by large number of studies of work situations is not so much that
42 D .H .J. Morgan Gender 43

assumed gender characteristics are uncritically taken as having some open-ended interview. Clearly some more work needs to be
kind of casual significance but that gender in this case tends to mean done here.
women. The male gender at the workplace is not seen as providing a 2 This is the case which is most congruent with the power
subject for analysis; or, men at work are taken as providing the situation in everyday life. Attention is usually focused on the
standard of normal workshop behaviour, against which women are difficulties around possibly embarrassing questions to do
seen as deviating. with sexual or personal life. The actual dynamics; of men
Yet, against Matthews argument, it can be said that a large interviewing women still have, however, to be explored in
number of studies are concerned not with gender characteristics some detail.
(assumed or otherwise) but with the gender inequalities of the sexual 3 Women often constitute the underclass of sociological re
division of labour. The danger, therefore, is not so much one of search and are, therefore, more likely to be found among the
ignoring gender in some highly abstract sense but in subsuming ranks of interviewers (Wakeford, 1981, p. 507). It is often
gender inequalities under some wider, non-gender label such as class, assumed that women, in common with stereotypical notions
professional group, children and so on. Sociologists, it will be argued, of femininity, are better able to put their subjects at ease, to
ought to be concerned to continue to monitor these gender inequali establish rapport (Douglas, 1976, p. 211). The double-edged
ties in particular where they are masked by conventional labels and character of these assumptions is well explored by McKee
classifications. Clearly any straightforward way out of this dilemma is and O Brien (McKee and O Brien, 1983; also Easterday,
difficult; the guidelines at the end of this chapter may provide some 1977).
suggestions. 4 The question of women interviewing women has developed
following the growing interest in feminist research methodol
'pender and the research process
ogy. Here it is argued that the conventional positivist, fixed-
choice questionnaire is based upon a masculine version of
Gender is not something which exists simply as an object of study or sociological enquiry and that a more open-ended conversa
as a variable in sociological analysis. It enters into the research tion, with few of the hierarchical assumptions of men inter
process itself, into the selection of the problem and methodology, the viewing women is more appropriate (Graham, 1983; Oakley,
conduct of the research and the assumptions guiding the analysis. 1981b). However, certain ethical and political problems
Here, I focus on one aspect of this; the fact that the observer or are raised in the consideration of this kind of methodology
investigator has a gender identity (Hammersley and Atkinson, 1983, (Finch, 1984; Oakley, 1981b).
pp. 847; Wax, 1979). In particular I focus on the interviewing This matrix does not, of course, include what may be the most
situation, according to the following matrix: common research situation: one of both genders on both sides
(Stenhouse, 1984). Questions of the gender of the interviewer and
Interviewed interviewee have been given some attention in the literature but the
Men Women emphasis has been either upon possible difficulties to overcome or
possible advantages in terms of the interview itself. The deeper
Interviewers Men 1 2 questions, however, have been raised by the growing interest in the
Women 3 4 development of a feminist methodology (Stanley and Wise, 1983).
1 There has been little directly written about men interviewing Clearly, also, more attention must be paid to the whole process of
men although it is undoubtedly a common situation. There research and-to the whole range of methodologies. It has been
seems to be some evidence that men are more likely to have a suggested, for example, that the sexism of official statistics may have
negative attitude towards disclosure (Brannen and Collard, something to do with the gender structure of such agencies (EOC,
1982) and it is possible to argue that men in our culture are 1980).
more likely to prefer the more structured questionnaire to the
44 D .H .J. Morgan Gender 45

Cases kinship designations such as going for brothers (Liebow,

1967) and co-parent, compadre relationships in Latin Amer
Space does not permit a detailed examination of the use or non-use of ican cultures (Mintz and Wolf, 1967).
gender in recent years.4 An examination of the journals Sociology and To be labelled man or woman is, among many other
the American Sociological Review (ASR) over roughly the past ten years things, to be attributed with at least one of these particular
revealed the following patterns: gender-anchored identities. If it be correct to argue that the
i) Gender is more often assumed than either stated or used. potentially reificatory uses of terms such as marriage and
This was particularly true in the British journals. family should be constructed in order to reveal the gender
ii) Men only studies continue to be numerous in both fault-lines that run through them (Bernard, 1973; Thorne
journals (e.g. studies of mobility and stratification) but here and Yallom, 1982) so it may be equally important to avoid
gender is not treated as a topic or variable in its own right. the potentially reificatory use of gender identities by locating
iii) Women are only infrequently the subject of analysis them in family and kinship structures. Bernards own argu
and where they do form the research subjects they are more ment could indeed be reworked to suggest that it is not
likely than men to be problematized. enough to use the terms men and women in order to
iv) Studies which are based upon samples of men and compare different incidences of reported symptoms but to
women are more numerous in the American journal; break these down according to marital status and employ
moreover, direct comparisons and the use of gender as a ment status (ibid.). Bernard was, of course, following lines of
variable are more likely to be discovered in the ASR. investigation suggested by Durkheim when he argued that
v) Contrary to what might be expected there do not appear gross comparisons of men and women were not enough in the
to be any clear trends towards an increasing recognition of study of suicide; marital and parental status were also ofkey
gender as a key variable over this period. importance (Durkheim, 1952). More recently, Reiss has
argued that sexual permissiveness (in terms of attitudes)
M atthews fears about the possible over use or abuse of gender are varies not simply in terms of factors such as gender but also
hardly supported by this examination of two key journals. in the family life cycle, with parents being less permissive
_ than young children or unmarried adults (Reiss, 1967).
2j Cross-cutting variables. Another way of decomposing gen
De-constructing gender der is to see how it interacts with the other kinds of variables
such as age, generation and social class. It is well known for
If it is important to retain, perhaps even increase, the use of gender as example, that gender differentiation is less marked among
a key variable and yet also to avoid reification or importing taken-for- infants than among childen in many societies (Barry, Bacon
granted stereotypes, what is the solution? W hat is proposed here is a and Child in Lee and Stewart, 1976, pp. 219-20). Apart from
variety of ways of de-constructing gender, maintaining gender as a some of the more obvious distinctions in terms of age and
key variable while remaining alert to its complex and composite social class (and perhaps religion, ethnicity, etc.) there are
nature and to the sources of overlaps between genders. This may some less obvious variables such as social network. Recently,
allow for more flexibility than simple dichotomies. for example, Brannen and Collard have suggested that social
network is an important intervening variable, interacting
^ f^ In the first place it may be argued that gender consists of a set with gender in such questions as deciding to seek help for
of various kinship or family identities. These would include, marital problems, attitudes to disclosure and so on (Brannen
in our society, daughter/son, mother/father, wife/husband, and Collard, 1982). There are many recorded examples of
sister/brother, aunt/uncle. In other cultures more distant apparent gender differences that almost disappear when
identities such as mothers brother, fathers sister may be other variables, especially age, are taken into account. Pol
important. Also included here would be quasi and Active itical conservatism (voting labour or conservative) may lose
D .H .J. Morgan Gender 47

any slight association with gender when age (or is it genera M ^Wider generalizations. One further way in which gender
tion?) is taken into account. Edgell and Duke, examining might be constructed is to place it in a more general context
attitudes of men and women to cuts in social services, found of relationships between dominants and subordinates (Oak
that factors such as employment status, sector of employ ley, 1981a, pp. 89-90). This would have the beneficial
ment and union membership were more important factors effect of maintaining the issue of gender inequality (which
than simple gender and consequently, they called into ques Oakley, among others, would wish to see as part of a
tion, once again, the myth of the passive female workers definition of gender) while avoiding the reificatory tenden
(Edgell and Duke, 1983). cies in the use of gender alone. Goode, for example, has
The examination of the interaction between gender and examined Why Men Resist? placing his analysis in a wider
other variables could have a variety of possible outcomes. framework of studies of domination, and seeking to examine
The de-construction of gender through cross-cutting vari the conditions under which dominants resistance might be
ables may help to suggest the circumstances under which expected (in Thorne and Yallom, 1982, pp. 131-50).
gender becomes crucial and may serve as a corrective against One possible objection to the line of argument so far would
a catch-all use of gender as a source of analysis. In most be that it has served to blunt the critical edge which the study
cases, however, the situation will not be so clear cut, and of gender, inspired by the feminist movement, has brought to
gender and (say class) will interact to form a new status that sociological enquiry. To treat gender as yet another variable
has elements of both but which is not reducible to either. which may be modified or decomposed at will - is to run the
Ethnographic studies of the workplace provide several good risk of neutralizing it, of incorporating it into mainstream
accounts of the strictly interactive character of class and gen sociology. Clearly there are a variety of issues and dilemmas
der (Gamarnikow et al., 1983a; Pollert, 1981; Purcell, 1982). here. One is the extent to which gender is not simply a
^3^Interactive variables. The tendency has been to treat gender variable but, in a sense the variable, i.e. the major cleavage
as an independent variable. More detailed sociological work, within society. The theoretical debates around the nature of
particularly of an ethnographic kind, may suggest that gen patriarchy focus precisely on this question and have come
der (in common with some of the other characteristics) is a up with a variety of solutions. The dilemma which relates to
latent variable, exaggerated in some cases and relatively this is whether the emphasis on gender leads to the adoption
muted in others. Kanter, for example, has shown the import of an essentialist position, one which posits an absolute
ance of numbers in influencing gender relations within orga opposition between men and women, masculine and femi
nizations (Kanter, 1977). How men relate to women in nine and which is rooted in differences which are outside any
organizations will, to some extent, be dependent upon the particular social formation or historical epoch (Coward,
proportion of women at various levels within these organiza 1983). A paper in this context and of this length cannot help
tions. Tokens are more likely to be defined in terms of a to resolve these issues. W hat clearly needs to be done is
relatively limited range of stereotypical female roles. Within the recognition of the continuing and often overriding im
a wide range of occupational and organizational settings, portance of gender inequalities while not obscuring the
gender image and gender presentation m a y be shaped by the patterns of variation and overlap and, indeed, some of the
particular mix of elements within these contexts, mixes of sources of, and potential for, change.
hierarchical positions, age and proportions of men and 1 finish with some suggestions for researchers:
women at various levels and in various age categories. One
kind of mix may give rise to sexual banter and harassement, ^ ^ W h ile it may, in some cases, not be possible to have other
another kind of mix may give rise to female solidarity while than the simple female/male dichotomy, the possibilities of
yet another may give rise to relatively easy and amicable using more subtle differentiations in terms of gender identi
relations between the genders with sexual antagonism re fication should at least be considered. We should begin to
latively muted. take seriously the recognition that we are dealing with
48 D .H .J. Morgan Gender
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