Exploring Multidimensionality in Women's Marginalization: The Intersection of Gender, Language and Social Class in 21st Century Kolkata

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:37 PM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Chandrabali DUTTA , Sociology, University of Calcutta, CONTRACTUAL WHOLE-TIME TEACHER, KOLKATA, India
The present paper explores the interrelationship of gender, social class and language in India from ‘intersectional perspective. The introduction and application of ‘intersectionality’ in feminist sociological theorizing has burgeoned since late 1980s, when Kimberle Crenshaw (1989) coined the term and rejected ‘single-axis framework’ by embracing multiple dimensions. Moreover, the increasing worldwide affinity among feminist sociologists to adopt ‘intersectionality’ perspective has contributed significantly not only  to the understanding of gender but as well as to emphasize women’s lived experiences by unearthing the hitherto uncultivated and subjugated areas of knowledge regarding everyday practices, including their linguistic usages. However, language in general or more specifically in intersection with other social variables like gender, class, age, ethnicity and sexuality etc. have not adequately been dealt with by sociologists in India, in spite of its multilingual social reality. The substantive ‘second-grade existence’ of women as well as their marginalization has always been accentuated by the catalytic roles played primarily by their gender, followed by their language and social class. Even today, language is fundamental to gender inequality, where language used about women, and also used by women places them in a double bind between being appropriately feminine and being fully human. In addition, women’s social class positions based on their education, occupation, income and lifestyle patterns also further their domination giving rise to ‘multiple oppressions’. Therefore, with the help of ‘narrative’ analysis of 80 Bengali women in Kolkata, the present paper attempts to reflect how subjectivity is constituted by mutually reinforcing vectors of gender, language and class and thus to underscore the multidimensional inequalities of these marginalized subjects (i.e. women) in Kolkata, a modern urban metropolis in 21st century.