Gender Stratification: A Structural Model for Examining Case Examples of Women in Less-Developed Countries

By Wermuth, Laurie; Monges, Miriam Ma'At-Ka-Re | Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies, January 2002 | Go to article overview

Gender Stratification: A Structural Model for Examining Case Examples of Women in Less-Developed Countries


Wermuth, Laurie, Monges, Miriam Ma'At-Ka-Re, Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies


Feminist social history and theory have produced an array of approaches for the purpose of deconstructing historical records and theoretical frameworks that previously took for granted the second-class status and cultural insignificance of women. However, tools for systematic comparative analysis have not been fully integrated into the study of women's place across societies and social classes. A structural theory of gender stratification based on the work of Rae Lesser Blumberg and Randall Collins offers tools for the systematic and comparative study of women across societies and periods of history.

By "structural" model we mean one that examines the institutional relationships of women and men in the economy, politics, and the family. This structural/materialist approach has remained in the domain of a relatively small group of sociologists and anthropologists for reasons that are not entirely clear. Blumberg, Collins, and others have developed theoretical models for the comparative study of gender equality. (1) Relatively greater female control over sexuality and fertility, the timing of marriage, and partner choice reflect more equality. Increasing gender equality is also indicated by women's ability to divorce abusive husbands, share household authority, and exert local political influence. As a complement to detailed ethnographic and historical studies, a structural model offers promising tools for examining the forces that affect women's social and economic positions in less-developed countries. Such analyses can also fortify social and economic policy recommendations. The first section of this pap er explains the gender stratification model, and the second discusses case examples from Kerala (India), southern Africa, and Cambodia. In the conclusion we list several policy implications.

BASIC PRINCIPLES

The basic principles of a theory of gender stratification are as follows:

The amount of surplus in a society determines how much power there is for some individuals to hold over others; (2)

The system of gender inequality therefore corresponds to the type of society it belongs to and its stratification system;

Women's economic power is shaped by women's level of control over surplus and the relative importance of what they produce;

Women's economic control is influenced by the relative indispensability of women's labor, how work is organized, and sex ratios in the population; (3)

Women's economic power will determine their access to other kinds of power, for example, control over their sexuality and reproduction; (4)

Women's influence and power are usually lessened in highly militarized societies because men generally control weaponry and violence is easily turned against the less powerful in households and communities; (5) and

Culture plays a mediating role in shaping the status of women and ideologies about how much and what kinds of influence and power women can wield.

TYPES OF SOCIETY AND TYPES OF GENDER STRATIFICATION

The technological base of a society sets parameters for what type of family structure can exist and the degree of gender inequality generated. (6) Gerhard Lenski identifies five ideal types in a materially based model of social stratification. (7) Ideal types identify kinds of social organization in "pure" form with progressively weaker examples lying closer to the next type on a continuum. (8) Ideal types are useful for descriptive as well as comparative and explanatory purposes. In the real world, societies often combine elements of more than one ideal type.

Hunting and gathering societies have small bands of loosely associated families with low surplus and low inequality. Men have little power over women in these societies. Mutual cooperation is necessary for survival, and the division of labor between men and women is functionally and materially based.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Gender Stratification: A Structural Model for Examining Case Examples of Women in Less-Developed Countries
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.