Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School

By Barrie Thorne | Go to book overview
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Lessons for Adults

In the schoolroom more than any other place, does the difference of sex, if there is any, need to be forgotten.

-- Susan B. Anthony, 1856

In this ethnographic study of kids' daily lives in school, I have sought to ground and develop, with detailed substance and a sense of process and activity, the claim that gender is socially constructed. I have argued that kids, as well as adults, take an active hand in constructing gender, and that collective practices--forming lines, choosing seats, teasing, gossiping, seeking access to or avoiding particular activities-- animate the process. I have explored the subject of children and gender without being limited by notions of "socialization" and "development." As a result, I have been able to give full attention to children as social actors living in the abundant present, although influenced by larger social forces. One of my goals is to bring children more fully into sociological thought.

I have pushed for fresh thinking not only about children but also about gender. The last two decades of feminist theory have moved the analysis of gender beyond unexamined dualisms and toward much greater complexity. But these insights have not, by and large, been


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Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School


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