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Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture.

Wood, J. T. (2013). Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture. Boston, Wadsworth.
Written by leading gender communication scholar Julia T. Wood, GENDERED LIVES, 10th Edition introduces you to theories, research, and pragmatic information, demonstrating the multiple and often interactive ways that our views of masculinity and femininity are shaped within contemporary culture. With the most up-to-date research, balanced perspectives of masculinity and femininity, a personal introduction to the field, and a conversational first-person writing style, this engaging text encourages you to think critically about gender and our society.

A major survey of gender inequality in contemporary society has found lingering echoes of old-fashioned, “male breadwinner” values, but also evidence that men are happier when they do their fair share of household chores.

The findings are among dozens of results that have emerged from a five-year research project investigating equality between the sexes, and which are now being published in a book, Gendered Lives.

It charts the causes, consequences and prospects for what the Danish sociologist, Gsta Esping-Andersen, called an “incomplete revolution” in gender equality in Europe, and asks how greater equality between men and women can be achieved.

Optimistically, parts of the study found that even outside countries such as the Nordic states, where governments have actively promoted measures designed to promote greater equality, the gap between men in women in fields like the division of domestic labour is closing.

At the same time, however, the initiative also identified causes for deep concern. Many companies in the UK, for example, still see little incentive for altering the employment conditions of their staff to ensure that the work-life balance of men and women is equitable. Several of the researchers involved in the project also conclude that the only way to close certain aspects of the gulf between the sexes, such as the gender-pay gap, is through legal compulsion.

The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, was deliberately wide-ranging and complex. It covers attitudes and approaches towards gender equality over time, in different countries and at different levels – ranging from government policy to individual families. The researchers argue that this approach is important because we can only improve gender equality if we understand that it is the consequence of a network of multiple causes and effects.

Jacqueline Scott, Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and co-editor of the book, said: “There has been a lot of social theory about how people ‘do’ gender, in other words, how they behave in accordance with society’s expectations about what it means to be a man or a woman.”

“What we sometimes forget is that institutions are doing gender as well. Politicians, employers, schools and kindergartens, care homes and many other organisations all make decisions which impact directly on what is expected of families and these can challenge or reinforce traditional ideas about what men and women can or cannot do. If these decisions are not joined up, it can limit real gender equality overall.”

The idea of an incomplete revolution refers to a mixed picture in terms of gender equality across Europe. Since the 1960s, society has witnessed the demise of the traditional “male breadwinner” family, in which men went out to work and women stayed at home. More women have gone into higher education, managerial jobs, or professional occupations. Many now earn a salary comparable with their male counterparts.

At the same time, however, it is widely acknowledge that the gap has not closed completely. Many women still struggle to strike a work-life balance, especially when it comes to having children. Some decide not to have children for the sake of their careers, while others “rein in” their careers to start a family. Often they do this by reducing their working hours; in the UK, for example, 40% of women work part time, compared with just 10% of men. And the gender gap has only narrowed in certain areas – women still shoulder far more unpaid housework, for example.

The Origins of Violence: Religion, History and Genocide.

Docker, John. 2008. The Origins of Violence: Religion, History and Genocide. Pluto Press.

Genocide is commonly understood to be a terrible aberration in human behaviour, performed by evil, murderous regimes such as the Nazis and dictators like Suharto and Pinochet. John Docker argues that the roots of genocide go far deeper into human nature than most people realise. Genocide features widely in the Bible, the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, and debates about the Enlightenment. These texts are studied in depth to trace the origins of violence through time and across civilisations. Developing the groundbreaking work of Raphal Lemkin, who invented the term ‘genocide’, Docker guides us from the dawn of agricultural society, through classical civilisation to the present, showing that violence between groups has been integral to all periods of history.This revealing book will be of great interest to those wishing to understand the roots of genocide and why it persists in the modern age.

Death by Government.

Rummel, R. J. (1994). Death by Government. New Brunswick & London, Transaction.
This is Rummel’s fourth book in a series devoted to genocide and government mass murder, or what he calls democide. He presents the primary results, in tables and figures, as well as a historical sketch of the major causes of democide, those in which 1 million or more people were killed by a regime.

War and Human Nature.

Rosen, S. (2005). War and Human Nature. Princeton, NJ., Princeton University Press.
Why did President John F. Kennedy choose a strategy of confrontation during the Cuban missile crisis even though his secretary of defense stated that the presence of missiles in Cuba made no difference? Why did large numbers of Iraqi troops surrender during the Gulf War even though they had been ordered to fight and were capable of doing so? Why did Hitler declare war on the United States knowing full well the power of that country?

War and Human Nature argues that new findings about the way humans are shaped by their inherited biology may help provide answers to such questions. This seminal work by former Defense Department official Stephen Peter Rosen contends that human evolutionary history has affected the way we process the information we use to make decisions. The result is that human choices and calculations may be very different from those predicted by standard models of rational behavior.

This notion is particularly true in the area of war and peace, Rosen contends. Human emotional arousal affects how people learn the lessons of history. For example, stress and distress influence people’s views of the future, and testosterone levels play a role in human social conflict. This thought-provoking and timely work explores the mind that has emerged from the biological sciences over the last generation. In doing so, it helps shed new light on many persistent puzzles in the study of war.

The better angels of our nature: Why violence has declined.

Pinker, S. (2011). The better angels of our nature: Why violence has declined. London, Viking.

We’ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, “What is the world coming to?” But we seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” In this startling new book, the bestselling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. With the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps, Pinker presents some astonishing numbers. Tribal warfare was nine times as deadly as war and genocide in the 20th century. The murder rate of Medieval Europe was more than thirty times what it is today. Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were unexceptionable features of life for millennia, then suddenly were targeted for abolition.  Wars between developed countries have vanished, and even in the developing world, wars kill a fraction of the people they did a few decades ago. Rape, battering, hate crimes, deadly riots, child abuse, cruelty to animals—all substantially down.
How could this have happened, if human nature has not changed? What led people to stop sacrificing children, stabbing each other at the dinner table, or burning cats and disemboweling criminals as forms of popular entertainment? The key to explaining the decline of violence, Pinker argues, is to understand the inner demons that incline us toward violence (such as revenge, sadism, and tribalism) and the better angels that steer us away. Thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses, empathize with others, bargain rather than plunder, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence.
With the panache and intellectual zeal that have made his earlier books international bestsellers and literary classics,  Pinker will force you to rethink your deepest beliefs about progress, modernity, and human nature. This gripping book is sure to be among the most debated of the century so far.

Education, conflict and development.

Paulson, J. (2011). Education, conflict and development. Oxford, Symposium Books.
Under various names – education and conflict, education and fragility, education and insecurity, etc – the understanding of linkages between education and violent conflict has emerged as an important and pressing area of inquiry. Work and research by practitioners and scholars has clearly pointed to the negative potential of education to contribute to and entrench violent conflict. This work has highlighted the struggle for education during and following periods of instability and demonstrated the degree to which communities affected by conflict prioritize educational opportunities. It has also offered powerful normative arguments for the importance of quality education for peacebuilding, reconciliation, postconflict reconstruction and development.

In many instances, however, these important insights are derived less from rigorous research and scholarship in the social sciences than from the delivery and evaluation of educational programming in situations affected by conflict. This volume, therefore, seeks to broaden enquiry into education and conflict by exploring, through conceptual and empirical work, its linkages to broader theories and practices of development and peacebuilding. The volume begins with a conceptual and theoretical section, followed by a series of international case studies, before closing with three chapters focused on the case of Northern Uganda. Contributors present a diverse set of studies that together deepen understandings of the ways the education functions in various situations affected by conflict and the ways in which it might best be mobilized to contribute towards peacebuilding and development.

Engendering Development.

King, E. M. and A. D. Mason (2001). Engendering Development. Washington, D.C., World Bank.

The report aims to improve understanding of the links among gender issues, public policy, and development, and in so doing to foster a wider
interest in and a stronger commitment to promoting gender equality.This report is written for a broad audience of students and practitioners
of development, and especially for those who want to know why gender-related issues matter to development policy and practice. It focuses on
evidence from developing countries, but when empirical research on key aspects is thin or missing in these countries, we present findings from industrial countries. Indeed, there are many lessons to be learned and shared across countries that take different approaches and are at different stages of development.

Rising tide: Gender equality and cultural change around the world.

Inglehart, R. and P. Norris (2003). Rising tide: Gender equality and cultural change around the world. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press.

The twentieth century gave rise to profound changes in traditional sex roles. Rising Tide sets out to understand how modernization has changed cultural attitudes towards gender equality and to analyze the political consequences of this process. This book is the first to systematically compare attitudes towards gender equality worldwide, comparing almost 70 nations that run the gamut from rich to poor, agrarian to postindustrial. Rising Tide is essential reading for those interested in understanding issues of comparative politics, public opinion, political behavior, political development, and political sociology.

Why Men Rebel.

Gurr, T. (1970). Why Men Rebel. Princeton, NJ., Princeton University Press.
Highlights the complex interaction of inequality, discrimination and rebellion and the role of relative depravation in prediciting intrastate violence.