Gender, Sexuality and Social Class in Second Language Education: Background - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Gender, Sexuality and Social Class in Second Language Education: Background


Gender, Sexuality and Social Class in Second Language Education: Background Douglas Fleming University of Ottawa As Lemonick (1992) has noted, about one person in ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Gender, Sexuality and Social Class in Second Language Education: Background

Gender, Sexuality and Social Class in Second
Language Education Background
  • Douglas Fleming
  • University of Ottawa

  • As Lemonick (1992) has noted, about one person in
    20,000 are genetically of a different sex than
    their outward appearance would suggest.
  • Men generally have greater upper body strength,
    larger muscle mass and joint structures, thicker
    skin and lower awareness thresholds of injury.
  • Women, on the other hand, seem to have greater
    tolerance for pain and better long-term physical

  • When considering behavior, the differences
    between men and women are difficult to classify
    in terms of being biologically determinate. How
    much is due to nature and how much to nurture?
  • John Gray, the author of Men are from Mars, Women
    are from Venus contends that the sexes approach
    problem-solving differently.
  • Do you buy his arguments?

  • Gender, as opposed to sex, is the way in which
    one sees ones own sexual role.
  • Needless to say, social influences have a big
    role to play in this important aspect of
  • Ones physical sex might very well be clear
    enough from birth (although many would dispute
  • However, gender is learned.

  • People who do not fit into the binary division of
    gender are subject to pressures to conform.
  • Gay men, lesbian women, bisexuals or
    transgendered people behave sexually outside the
    dominant norm within society and are thus
    commonly subject to pressures to conform to
    preconceived notions of what constitutes gender.
  • This binary division also promotes the attitude
    that sexual identity and behavior should be
    consistent and clearly demarcated against an

  • As Beasley (2005) notes, the fact that the
    masculine is accorded higher value than the
    feminine can be demonstrated linguistically.
  • Feminine equivalents (spinster as opposed to
    bachelor, for example) are usually interpreted
    negatively. Feminine names often contain
    diminutives (waitress, as opposed to waiter).

  • The battles over politically correct
    terminology occur because some contend that
    making a conscious effort at using PC words is a
    way of conscious-raising that hopefully affects
    attitudes AND behaviors.
  • Breaking linguistic conventions is difficult,
    given the constructionist nature of language.

  • great effort has been made to deny the very
    existence of class (Teeple, 2000).
  • Despite a recently dramatic concentration of
    wealth in the U.S. (see http//concentrationof
  • Liberal (small l) forms of citizenship, for
    example, in which everyone enjoys equal access to
    a common set of rights and privileges masks
    social and economically-based inequalities
    (Marshall, 1950).

  • The supposed basis of class is not biological,
    but socio-economic.
  • As opposed to race and gender, the outward
    appearance of class is generally more easily
    discarded. In other words, it is easier to hide
    ones class origins as opposed those pertaining
    to ones race or gender.
  • One can also change class membership in ways that
    are not dependent on physical attributes.

  • We are used to equating class primarily with
    wealth and secondarily with access to educational
  • Given how social stratification is represented
    ideologically, we are also using to viewing class
    as being relatively fluid and based on merit.
  • However, it is important to note class is as
    socially constructed as race and gender.
  • Proof of this is in how societies have classified
    social stratification in various ways.

  • The Indian caste system in its traditional
    formulation, for example, is quite rigid in terms
    of social mobility.
  • Native social hierarchies were quite variable.
  • Traditional Confucius Chinese social

  • Even within modern European notions of class,
    there are important variations.
  • Pre-revolutionary France was marked by the three
    estates (church aristocracy/ military and
    everyone else).
  • The traditional British system divided society
    into the aristocracy and the commons.
  • It could be argued that communist countries have
    divided classes according to party membership.

  • Social stratification is marked by ones wealth,
    income, education and placement in an overarching
    system that ascribes value to various
    occupational statuses (esp. in terms of
    governmental, military and religious structures).
  • Class is symbolically represented through manners
    and clothing, membership in high status
    organizations, honorific titles bestowed by
    organizations that exercise power, and language

  • Formalized descriptions of class structures do
    not (usually) reflect power relations accurately.
  • Stories about individual merit (e.g. Horatio
    Alger) will often make class membership in modern
    capitalist societies appear to be much more fluid
    than it really is.
  • As in the case of race, meritocratic standards
    allow one to blame the victims, this time the

  • Financial capital passed down from family members
    perpetuates class divisions in obvious ways.
    However, other factors also play a hand.
  • Cultural capital (Bourdieu,1977) is a set of
    non-materialist resources related to family
    background, social status (as opposed to economic
    class) and education that is passed down from
    generation to generation.
  • Different values are found within hierarchical
    forms of cultural capital that can be variously
    transformed into the more tangible material forms
    of capital, such as money and power.
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