Authored by: Victoria Goddard

The Ashgate Research Companion to Anthropology

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754677031
eBook ISBN: 9781315612744
Adobe ISBN: 9781317044116


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Since the 1970s a critical strand within anthropology has taken gender identities as a central research focus to explore the social arrangements and practices through which women and men are allocated specific roles, attributes, and resources. The research has furthered discussions on fundamental questions about social organization, and in particular social asymmetries and inequalities. Sometimes explicitly, and at other times in a muted dialogue, much of the debate questioned whether gender differences and gender hierarchies are universal. Early work in this area faced an empirical deficit arising from androcentric analyses and gender bias in the dominant research agenda within the discipline. An urgent task was therefore to redress the gap in the literature regarding the roles and values of women through new research and re-studies from a gender perspective 1 (Goodale 1971; Weiner 1976) which highlighted the wide range of social arrangements and differences reflected in women’s lives and perspectives. This chapter will outline these debates focusing on different arrangements regarding labor and their implications for claims to universal patterns of gender organization and inequality. Through an ethnographically grounded discussion of production and reproduction, the chapter engages in a critical exploration of key concepts within dominant economic paradigms, in particular the notion of homo economicus, and their implications for analyses of work and households in the global economic system.

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