Sociology | Advanced Topics: Gender, Culture, and Institutions
S660 | 11920 | Armstrong

Gender, Culture, and Institutions

This course will offer an introduction to theoretical and empirical
research in the sociology of gender. The study of gender is vast and
interdisciplinary. This course will not even attempt to cover this
interdisciplinary terrain. We will focus on the theoretical
perspectives and analytical tools that offer sociologists the most
assistance in developing empirical sociological research, and on
demonstrating how these perspectives have been applied in exemplary
empirical sociological research. The readings will form the heart of
a qualifying exam list in the Sociology of Gender. I am a cultural
sociologist with a strong interest in institutional theory and
general social theory; these investments will shape both the overall
arc of the course as well as the ways in which we will approach the
individual readings. We will read general cultural and institutional
theory without a specific focus on gender when it helps us make
sense of the readings or substantive issues at hand. We will begin
by reading some classical pieces in the sociology of gender. To
frame the rest of the course, we will then jump to the cutting edge
of gender theory in order to get a working understanding of what
gender scholars mean by the term “intersectionality” and what it
looks like when deployed in empirical research. We will then move to
a lengthy investigation of how scholars have investigated gender at
different levels of analysis—individual, interactional, structural,
and multi-level—while trying to retain the insights gleaned from our
foray into intersectionality. Not only does gender intersect with
other forms of inequality and operate at micro, meso, and macro
levels, but it also organizes social life across virtually all
arenas of human experience. There are sophisticated literatures that
investigate gender inequality in labor markets, medicine, education,
religion, etc. There is no way to do justice to even one of these
literatures in an overview course like this. I will endeavor to give
you the tools to develop a more specialized expertise in one or more
of these areas. To do this we will read some of the best literature
in one of the most well-developed of these area (e.g., gender
inequality in the labor market) and some exemplars of substantive
work investigating gender in other arenas (e.g. sexuality). Not only
does gender organize virtually all arenas of human experience, but
it does so variably across time and place. Understanding how gender
systems vary and how they change are central questions in the field.
Exploring these questions gives us the opportunity to get a taste of
some exciting new book-length scholarship—for example, we may read
about how gendered sexuality changes as people move across borders,
how gender is produced in factories at the U.S./Mexican border, and
how changes in the global economy transform sex work and sexuality
in general.