Essays in Honor of Gerhard E. A Reply to Hirschfeld et al. Annual Review of Anthropology Vol. What determines men's and women's roles and positions within families? Family and kinship institutions are everywhere crucial to the status of women and men and to their cultural identities. Women and men have strong and lasting relationships as spouses, as parents and children, and as brothers and sisters.
Kinship rules define relationships at birth while marriage creates bonds between adults and often kinship groups. Family structures vary considerably, but commonly involve living together, pooling of resources, and interests bonded through a shared fate. That such links between women and men can coexist with severe gender inequality is analytically challenging. Not surprisingly, a lot of theoretical and empirical work has sought to disentangle and explain these relationships.
Probably the two general issues in the modern world that have received the most attention concern the ways that women and men are unequal within families and the interdependence between inequality within families and the gender inequality that exists outside families, particularly within economic and political processes. Analytical Task 1 The analytical problem. A issue surrounding analyses of gender and families concerns a distinction between two kinds of causes.
The first kind are the limitations of the larger social environment, in terms of the opportunities, responsibilities, and obstructions facing women and men. The second are the ways that women and men make choices.
We want to consider how these two kinds of causes might interact. One way to think through the implications of such potentially complex causal interactions is to to examine the possibilities using very simple models. To do this, we will focus on critical moving parts and limit the possible variation in them. In this case, we can identify three primary social characteristics. A simplified model for analysis.
So, for our simplified model, let us consider some basic assumptions: Assume that all men have opportunities for decent jobs and wish to have them. We are leaving out variations in men's relationship to the economy by holding it constant.
Assume there are two possible conditions concerning the economic opportunities for women: Assume that the distribution of women's preferences could be at either of two levels: Assume that the preferences of men regarding the employment of their wives are distributed at one of two levels: Finally, assume that both women's and men's preferences about women wives in particular working influence both what kind of people they try to marry and how they individually and jointly respond to the economic opportunities available to women after marrying.
Note that these are characteristics of the population in the model, not of individuals. Taken together, these define eight possible combinations of the three characteristics some of which are empirically unlikely. Now, consider the actions possible within the simplified model. People can marry or divorce, with most presumably being married, and with employment preferences and experience influencing mate choice.
Women can take or leave jobs, with those actions influenced by all three varying conditions job availability, women's employment preferences, men's preferences about women's employment. People can have children, although the model makes no assumptions about fertility. Men's are employed at decent jobs by default, so the model does not include changes in male employment as actions, although one could add this.
Finally, consider some of the consequences we might examine or anticipate: In short, we now have a simple model with clearly defined types of people, three varying conditions of the social environment, a limited set of actions people may take that are influenced by their predispositions and circumstances, and a limited set of consequences.
Using the model for analysis. Given the possibilities for different starting points in the model, consider what the social outcomes might be under the varied possibilities defined by the distribution of women's opportunities, the distribution of women's preferences, and the distribution of men's preferences.
The idea is to think through the various plausible combinations of the starting conditions to see where we think they might lead. We want to consider what would be the expected distribution of actions under each set of conditions, what immediate consequences that might have, and then were might it lead over time. Some of the consequences to consider would be: To extend the analysis, we can add other possible variations.
As think through the possibilities using the simple model, we must expect to find ourselves asking things such as: Thus, we might decide we need to elaborate the model to include variations in the distribution of men's work preferences, to consider the cross-cutting influence of class, to question a widening of the range of possible conditions e. Analytical Task 2 The general analytical problem. We want to provide an integrated analytical overview of the principal causal arguments about gender inequality and family organization that appear in the common readings.
Each of the readings has various causal arguments about family organization, some directly about gender inequality, some relevant to gender inequality but not directly exploring it.
Some of the causal questions may receive different causal analyses by these authors. Sometimes two or more authors may use a similar causal approach to explain different causal problems. Our goal is to sort this out. Our overviews should be organized around the causal arguments, not a series of summaries of what each author wrote see Thinking Tools.
We want to use one of the following two possible ways to organize the causal assessment unless one of us has a better way. The first organizes around what is to be explained, the second around the causes. We start by identifying the principal causal problems addressed by the group of papers. That is, we figure out what they suggest needs to be explained.
Then, we organize these causal problems in a sensible order including consideration of some problems potentially being secondary or sub-problems of others.
Under each causal problem, we summarize and assess all the relevant explanations found in the readings. We start by identifying the principal causal frameworks used in the papers. That is, we figure out what they suggest are the conditions or processes that have the most important influence over the outcomes.
Then, we organize these causal frameworks in a sensible order, taking into account which are entirely different and which might be variations of a similar theme, and which are competing versus complementary. For each of these, after summarizing the causal logic of the framework, we show how it has been used by these authors, describing the range of outcomes the framework is supposed to determine and how it has such effects. Note that regardless which way we organize our analysis of competing causal arguments, it can be valuable to think about not only what is considered by the authors being examine, but also which theoretical questions and which causal frameworks seem relevant but absent.
Please reread the " Basics of Causal Descriptions " on the starting point for describing a causal analysis. In short, our aim is to produce a critical overview of the principal causal arguments concerning the family and gender inequality, starting with the ideas present in the common readings for this week. To do this effectively, we need to identify all the relevant causal arguments, deduce the logical structure of each causal argument and determine how to present that clearly even if the original source is inconsistent or ambiguous , detect how the causal arguments from different sources relate to each other and present them in a way that makes those relations clear, and, where possible, summarize the important analytical strengths and weaknesses of each argument or facet to an argument.
We should start with the understanding that this kind of analytical overview is rather easy to do poorly and very demanding to do well and thoroughly.
At this stage we are not aspiring to a professional job but hoping to achieve a reasonable, if basic, analysis. Common Readings Andrew J.