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© 2009 Mary Holmes
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Gender and everyday life / Mary Holmes.
p. cm.— (The new sociology)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978–0–415–42348–9 (hbk)—ISBN 978–0–415–42349–6 (pbk) —ISBN 978–0–203–92938–4 (ebk) 1. Sex role. 2. Sex
differences. 3. Gender identity. I. Title.
ISBN 0-203-92938-1 Master e-book ISBN
ISBN10: 0–415–42348–1 (hbk)
ISBN10: 0–415–42349–X (pbk)
ISBN10: 0–203–92938–1 (ebk)
ISBN13: 978–0–415–42348–9 (hbk)
ISBN13: 978–0–415–42349–6 (pbk)
ISBN10: 978–203–92938–4 (ebk)
In sociologically imagining the state of gender in everyday life I have packaged it up around themes that seem important: gendered embodiment, the learning and doing of gender, gender as relation(ships), resisting gender and future gender. In this Conclusion I want to draw together insights parcelled out in each chapter to give an overview of gender that is historical, comparative and critical. I do this so that some thought can be given to where thinking about gender might go next. The last major
rethink of gender was by Judith Butler, whose ﬁrst book on the topic appeared in 1990. This changed the way gender was
thought about and I want to consider whether there might be any other revolutions in store. It would be nice to imagine that this Conclusion might contain such a revolution, but I have more
humble hopes. I just hope that these last pages might leave you with a sense of why it is important to reﬂect on how gender is done in everyday life, how sociology can help with this, and to explore the possibility that gender could be done diﬀerently or even not at all.
HISTORY OF GENDER: LEARNING FROM THE PAST
Looking back at how women’s and men’s lives have changed is a crucial element in seeing how we are not simply determined by our biology. Bodies play a part in how we live and form the basis on which social divisions such as gender operate. However, bodies are not just hunks of indisputable ﬂesh but are interpreted in changing ways. There have been diﬀerent ways of thinking about human bodies and in the past women’s and men’s bodies were seen as more similar than they are now.
If gender is not simply programmed into our anatomy, then
there are bound to be variations in how women and men act.
There are patterns to these variations over time and Chapter 2 documented some of the changing ways in which femininity and masculinity have been done. Social expectations about ‘ladylike’ or ‘manly’ behaviour do shift, as you will know from sometimes hearing older folk exclaim about how what youngsters are doing or wearing would not have been acceptable ‘in their day’. Sociologists think about the patterns around gender in terms of large processes that are going on within particular societies and how they have brought us to where we are today. They may attend to the economic shifts that have...