Toward a Gendered and Intersectional Sociology of Development

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 18:55
Oral Presentation
Marcia SEGAL, Indiana University Southeast, USA
The sociology of development has begun to incorporate gendered perspectives, but is not fully transformed. Gender scholarship is characterized by intersectional perspectives, but its gender, race and class focus is less useful in the development context. In this paper I begin to develop and illustrate a mature gendered and intersectional sociology of development. I explain the concepts and draw examples from my own work and that of others.

A gendered perspective takes into account that both individual lives and social systems are gendered. In various cultures women and men play different roles whether by custom or by choice. At the same time, the structures within which they interact make assumptions, allocate resources, award status and control behavior in ways that reflect gendered norms and ideology. Examples relevant to development include allocation of parenting duties and inheritance rules. An intersectional perspective takes into account how various attributes interact with gender. For example options open to an urban woman with a secondary school education differ from those open to a rural woman with a primary school education and those options impact not only the woman, but also her family members and, if they are representative, tell us something about their communities.

What western gender scholars know about how corporations, universities and metropolitan communities are gendered may be less applicable to market stalls in unincorporated urban settlements or harambe schools in rural villages. The gender/race/class intersectional paradigm is not always broad enough for development work and may not include the most relevant attributes. For example ethnicity or religion may be critical in racially homogeneous populations, sexuality or gender identity may be more salient than gender per se in contexts where gender is not considered binary and status may be measured in ways that do not map to socioeconomic class.