Authentic Ethnicities: The Interaction of Ideology, Gender Power, and Class in the Italian-American Experience

By Patricia Boscia-Mulè | Go to book overview

7
Gender Differences in Social Behavior

In the previous chapter, we saw the significance of social class as an element of internal differentiation of Italian ethnicity, as well as a source of in-group social distance. This chapter focuses more specifically on gender, expanding on the evidence presented in the previous analysis. This discussion deals mainly with gender behavior in the social sphere, and it proposes that gender is a more important determinant of people's public demeanor than is social class, producing differences not merely across, but also within class groupings.

Students of ethnic phenomena have generally focused on the educational, economic and class dimensions of ethnic diversity, but they have too often subsumed gender differences into a common class denominator. Needless to say, such an approach obscures much of the diversity internal to class-cultural sections. It also hinders our recognition of the cultural links running across ethnic class divisions, links that result from a similarity of gender-based experiences and interests.

Placing the analysis of a group's ethnicity within a gender framework allows me to move beyond broad assessments of its ideological makeup or, conversely, of its internal class distinctions, toward a sounder understanding of its cultural dynamics. Specifically, it enables me to observe the significant role played by social

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Authentic Ethnicities: The Interaction of Ideology, Gender Power, and Class in the Italian-American Experience
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Study Design 7
  • 3 - Perspectives on Ethnicity 13
  • 4 - The Meaning of Familism 27
  • 5 - Tradition and Family Dynamics: Redefining Women's Domestic Power 47
  • Italians Vs. Italians: Intragroup Perceptions and Relations 69
  • 7 - Gender Differences in Social Behavior 101
  • 8 - A Look at the Third Generation 127
  • 9 - Conclusion 157
  • Notes 165
  • Bibliography 167
  • Index 175
  • About the Author 181
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