Gender, Power, and Communication in Human Relationships

By Pamela J. Kalbfleisch; Michael J. Cody | Go to book overview

Chapter 14
Gender and Power

Judy C. Pearson Ohio University

Leda Cooks University of Massachusetts

difference: 1. an instance of differing in nature form or quality; a characteristic that distinguishes one from the other or from the average. 2. distinction or discrimination in preference.

-- Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary ( 1981)

differánce: a structuring principle that suggests that definition rests not on the entity itself but on its positive and negative references to other texts. Meaning is changed over time and ultimately the attribution of meaning is put off, postponed, deferred, forever.

-- Derrida ( 1972, 1981, pp. 39-40)

The relationship between gender and communication has been of interest to researchers since the beginning of this century ( Jespersen, 1922; Parsons, 1913; Stopes, 1908). Within the past two decades, the research has increased at a geometric rate. Perhaps of greater importance, issues of how gender and communication should be studied have arisen. The significance of this shift lies, in part, in the fact that the relative power between and among women and men is affected by how gender is conceptualized. This essay will explore the development of inquiry on gender and communication. Attention will be paid to the implications of studying gender from particular perspectives.

This chapter reflects first on the history of gender research and then reflects on its reflection. We begin with a discussion of Gender as Difference by the first author. Followed by a description of Gender as Differánce developed by the second author,

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