Pragmatic Utopias

Intentional gender-democratic and sustainable communities

Authored by: Helen Jarvis

Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415707749
eBook ISBN: 9781315886572
Adobe ISBN:


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While some aspects of social and economic life have changed significantly since the industrial revolution and through the post-industrial era, domestic living arrangements remain stubbornly rooted in traditional gender roles and a rigid model of separate family dwelling. Despite persuasive feminist critique and evidence of viable alternatives (notably the Israeli Kibbutz and the extended family compounds typical of many African and Central Asian countries), the pattern of dwelling and internal arrangement of domestic space in Western societies remains conservative and inward looking. In Britain, for example, apart from the humblest accommodation for the working classes (which often had shared cooking and washing facilities), the family has been housed in a self-contained dwelling with the interior divided into a number of strongly demarcated spaces, each classified according to gender-defined activities. The norm has been established as one of conservative emphasis on privacy (Lawrence 1982) and more recently a treadmill of investment in comfort, cleanliness, and convenience (Shove 2003).

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