Social Inequality - Feminism

Info I used for 40 marks (2016 exams)

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Outline and assess Feminist explanations of gender/social inequality [40]
Radical Feminism (patriarchy)
Radical feminists argue that society is patriarchal and because of this, women are
exploited and oppressed
Men display their power through female inequality in the home through domestic and
sexual violence
Patriarchal definitions of sexuality are used to control women for the benefit of men;
women are told how to look, dress and behave (they are essentially objectified)
Stanko believes that sexual harassment is used in the workplace to keep women in their
place; men use their power in the workplace to exploit their position. Women in bar and
secretarial work are sexualised are not taken seriously for promotion as men
Ansley notes how women tend to absorb the frustration of their husband in the home,
and statistics found by Jansson 2007 show that 3% of all women in Britain experience
either minor or severe violence at the hands of their partner
Radical feminists fail to consider male disadvantage and inequality in society; boys are
now underperforming in schools, many men have been made redundant due to
deindustrialisation, men have a lower life expectancy than women etc.
Marxist Feminism - Benston (reserve army of labour)
She believes that capitalism benefits from a reserve labour force of women to 'keep
wages down and profits up'
In women's roles as secondary breadwinners, married women provide a source of cheap
and easily exploitable labour
Because women have been socialised to comply and submit, they form a docile labour
force that can be readily manipulated and easily fired when not require
Argued women are used to benefit the operation of the capitalist economy by carrying
out unpaid work, e.g. housework and childcare
Supported by ONS statistics which show that 42% of women aged 16-64 were in part
time work, compared to 12% of men ­ this shows how women are more likely to acquire
short term jobs which they can be easily let go from
Walby believes there is a dual system in which women are exploited by both patriarchy
in the home and capitalism in the workplace
Liberal Feminism - Oakley (social construction)

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Her main point is that gender roles are not as fixed as writers such as Parsons and
Bowlby, instead the role of a mother/housewife is a social construct
The social construction of these male and female roles comes from three main ideas:
Manipulation ­ for example dressing girls in dresses and using the colour pink to
symbolise femininity and blue to symbolise masculinity
Canalisation ­ directing girls and boys toward more gender specific toys
Verbal appellation ­ gender labelling of appearance and tasks, for example…read more

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Abbott et al ­ as a black feminist, she claims feminism addresses issues concerning
women in general, but it actually concentrates on women's experience from white
perspectives and priorities

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Outline and assess Feminist explanations of age inequality [40]
Believes comparisons can be made between women and age in terms of inequality
Both are members of minority groups, however women have fought for more change
Oakley believes there are ways which made children more disadvantaged;
Adults speak for children, children are not heard
Childhood issues are ignored in sociology
Children lack the same rights as adults
Children have to conform to the demands of adults
Society is adult centred
However, there are now laws…read more

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Dunscome and Marden found that women tend to be stuck performing the triple shift of
domestic work, paid work and emotional work
Katz and Lyng
Youths tend to have different attitudes towards risk taking, in particular relating to
Katz and Lyng refer to this as 'edgework' in which young males are more likely to engage
in behaviour which continually pushes the boundaries, or edges, of society in
dangerous, sometimes life-threatening ways
They argue this is due to socialisation, and how young males have greater…read more

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Believes economic factors, and ultimately capitalism, cause women's subservience to
men, and only economic changes could lead to their liberation
Men have greater power than women as it is men who own the means of production
and who tend to earn the wage outside of the home; they tend to be the breadwinners
Women continue to be financially disadvantaged compared to men, even when they
enter paid employment ­ they tend to receive lower wages and lower-status jobs than
Even though Engels wrote…read more

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She found that the women had low social, economic and cultural capital, and this was
made worse by the fact that they were female and working class
Skeggs concluded that they lacked positive working class identities
This is supported by the fact that men tend to have a stronger working class identity,
expressed through manual labour jobs and Miller's focal concerns such as toughness
and trouble
However recently men have also been going through a crisis of identity, in particular
masculinity, due to deindustrialisation and…read more

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Benston ­ Marxist feminist
Believes capitalism benefits from a reserve labour force of women 'to keep wages down
and profits up'
Because women have been socialised to comply and submit, they form a docile labour
force which can be easily manipulated and exploited, and easily fired when not required
Oakley also believes gender role socialisation occurs which promotes women to be
complacent with their position in the workplace, with masculinity being seen as
dominant and femininity being subordinate
Stanko, a radical feminist, believes men use…read more


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