Boys and Girls Apart

Boys and Girls Apart: Children's Play in Canada and Poland

Stephen Richer
Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 175
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zt35n
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  • Book Info
    Boys and Girls Apart
    Book Description:

    This original book contributes significantly to an understanding of sexism by revealing a major arena for its formation - the play practices of children. This is the first sociological work to use children's drawings to make inferences about structured gender inequality. The author examines the situation in both capitalist and socialist societies, and provides specific strategies for restructuring children's play to counter gender-based inequalities. Samples of the children's art are supplied, in colour and in black and white.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7361-1
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Historical Note
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)

    This book focusses generally on inequality. The problem of documenting the extent of differences in power, prestige and wealth, and attempting to explain them, is arguably the major preoccupation of sociologists. Yet, for much of the history of the discipline, one axis of inequality has dominated sociological attention—that of social class. Whether thought of as ownership or non-ownership of the means of production as with Marx, or as control of property as with Weber, or as a position in an occupational hierarchy as is characteristic of North American writers, emphasis has been placed on the role of class in...

  6. CHAPTER 2 GENDER DIFFERENTIATION IN CANADA AND POLAND
    (pp. 13-38)

    In all known societies men and women can be observed doing different things—gender and activity are strongly connected. This connection is not fleeting, but is recurrent and regular; it is part and parcel of our everyday taken-for-granted world, the way things are and, by implication, the way they ought to be. Such structured activities are calledpractices,and reflect the institutionalized dimension of human behaviour.

    If one is distressed by gender inequality, the division of men and women into different activity spheres is in itself no cause for alarm. The distribution of groups in societal activity may reflect only...

  7. CHAPTER 3 EXPRESSIONS OF GENDER: PLAY PRACTICES
    (pp. 39-82)

    Children’s play can be conceived of as a set of practices carried out among age-similar peers. These practices embody several features important to bear in mind. First, play is the child’s first experience of groups in which participation is largely voluntary. Participation in one’s family, by contrast, is typically prescribed from birth, and leaving the family unit is virtually impossible for the young child, both at the symbolic and physical levels.

    Second, play practices are more likely than other group practices to be characterized by relations of equality. This is not to say there is no vertical differentiation in children’s...

  8. CHAPTER 4 EXPRESSIONS OF GENDER: SELF-CONCEPTION
    (pp. 83-106)

    Our definition of self is largely a product of our social experience. Among sociologists, the extreme position is the symbolic interactionist view espoused by G.H. Mead and his followers. The essence of this position is that we only know about self through others. By role-taking (i.e., imaginatively projecting ourselves into the shoes of others) we come to definitions of self that reflect our perceptions of how others see us. Through this process we constantly monitor both our behaviour and self-conception, gradually bringing them in line with the expectations others hold of us. The dominant theme of this framework, then, is...

  9. CHAPTER 5 POSSIBILITIES FOR CHANGE: A FOCUS ON BELIEFS
    (pp. 107-124)

    The ubiquity of patriarchy presents a difficult challenge to those disturbed by gender inequality. Patriarchy in social structure has displayed great resilience through time, and is a feature of most, if not all, human societies. There is considerable debate on its universality, but there is no question that patriarchy has been the dominant mode of stratification to the present day. How can such an entrenched structural attribute of our society, perpetuated by beliefs and everyday practices, be changed?

    There are no easy answers to this question, but I believe that social interventions need to betheoretically informed; they must be...

  10. CHAPTER 6 POSSIBILITIES FOR CHANGE: A FOCUS ON PRACTICES
    (pp. 125-152)

    The following incidents were observed during fieldwork conducted over the past several years.

    In a kindergarten classroom, two boys are shouting in mock fear, “Girl germs, girl germs.” They are being chased by a group of six girls, who, hooting with laughter, are trying to catch the boys and “contaminate” them by physical contact. One of the boys is caught by two girls, but wards off the germs by performing what can be described as a purification ritual: with his fingers crossed he hops first on one foot, then on the other, until, sufficiently protected, he runs off again (Ottawa...

  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 153-162)