Children's constructions of gender, power, and adult occupation

Francis, Becky (1996) Children's constructions of gender, power, and adult occupation. Doctoral thesis, University of North London.

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Abstract / Description

This thesis argues that children draw on various gender discourses to construct gender in different ways. Using the topic of adult occupation as the context for the investigation, it examines the talk of 145 7 -11 year old children in role plays and interviews, to discover whether children constructed the genders as different or the same, oppositional or not oppositional, as a source of unfair discrimination or not a source of discrimination, and lastly whether or not they construct gender as a source of power. Further, the mechanisms used in children's constructions are explored.

This thesis investigates children's constructions of gender in relation to their own school lives and the issue of adult occupation. It argues that the discursive practice of gender dichotomy which positions all people as male or female leads the majority of children to construct the genders as different. Further, identification and visual demonstration of gender leads some children to construct the genders as oppositional: either in opposition, or opposite to each other. It is also found that many children construct gender as a source of unfair discrimination (and thus as a source of power) in their school lives and in adult occupation. These constructions - are suggested to impact upon many children's power positions in role play interaction. There were, however, children who did not construct the genders as different or oppositional, and others who did not present gender as a source of discrimination and power. The thesis speculates about the reasons for this.

The mechanisms of children's constructions are explored: poststructuralist discourse analysis is used in an endeavor to analyse and categorise the different gender discourses children drew on in their talk, and to investigate the bases of these. Evidence children draw upon in their constructions of gender is also examined to show the discursive resources available to children with which to challenge the construction of gender as different or oppositional. It is argued that, while equal opportunities discourses offer little challenge to the discursive practice of gender dichotomy, a discourse of genders as innately equal offers more potential for deconstruction.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: school work; occupations; work in manufacturing industries; children's constructions of gender; children's perceptions of gender
Subjects: 100 Philosophy & psychology > 150 Psychology
Department: School of Social Sciences (to June 2021)
School of Social Professions (to June 2021)
Depositing User: Mary Burslem
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2022 11:49
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2022 11:50


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