Journal Review on Gender by Joan Scott

Journal Review

Scott, Joan Wallach. “Gender: A Useful Category Of Historical Analysis,” In Gender And The Politics Of History.. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

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Thesis

The thesis for this work is a review of the concepts of gender and the way these aspects affect our historical understanding. Scott has successfully defined this thesis by reviewing the aspect of gender from varying perspectives. For example, Scott uses a poststructuralist approach, as well as, a social constructionist standpoint to explore the issue of gender. 

Summary

The subject of this work is a review of the concepts of gender and the way these aspects affect our historical understanding. The author starts by defining gender, which she states is a constitutive element of social relationships that are explored on sex differentiation. She provides a view that gender is a way that classifies phenomena. Additionally, she applies a social constructionist standpoint to explore and define issues to do with class, gender, and race. Scott defends her argument by stating that gender history is not a synonym of women history but the two are complementary where a researcher cannot study women without studying men, as the differentiation or comparative paradigm. She based her argument on internal differentiation, which she argues follows a post-structuralist approach. On this argument, Scott illustrates that a researcher conveys meaning either through explicit or implicit contrast.

Purpose

The purpose of the book is to analyze all the aspects surrounding the issue of gender and relating it to history. From the reading, I believe Scott has done and discussed issues she stipulated to tackle on his review. 

Book Organization

Scott has provided a good organization of her book, which is beneficial for the reader. Hence, I believe Scott’s work is well written and organized with a refreshing clarity of thoughts. Her professional experience can be attributed to the way she has succinctly ensured the constitutive element of social relationship that the reader understands one aspect before the next. She attains this by splitting the book into three sections background, philosophical issues, and practical application. The first section explores the background in the formation of gender including varying definitions and interpretation of gender. Through this, she gives a multifaceted description of gender, which helps the reader to understand the concept better. In her definition, gender is broken into two:

  1. She first illustrates and explains gender as a constitutive element of social relationship 
  2. Gender primarily signifies power  relationships

The background of gender also includes the history of gender where Scott’s highlights was introduced by American feminists who advocated for equality based on gender. 

On philosophical issues, Scott argues based on the approaches applied by historians: descriptive and cognitive understanding. In this, she presents that gender has historically been viewed from a woman’s lens, which has resulted in a politically acceptable field. She relates this to theories on feminism and patriarchy. For example, Scott identifies that patriarchy theorists illustrate gender issues through their urge to dominate women. This is also presented using Marxist theory, which follows an external view of sexual divisions where male dominion requires elimination through the sexual division of labor. Scott also views gender from an analytical position, which follows sexual identity from a subjective view. 

Practically, Scott explains that gender can be classified into two interrelated classifications. Practically, we can argue, “gender is a constitutive element of social relations based on perceived differences between sexes and gender is a primary way of signifying relationships of power” (1068). She explains that although the four definitions are interrelated, they do not operate simultaneously. 

Contribution to Scholarly Work

Although several studies have been conducted on the historical aspects of gender, Scott’s work is unique and of significance to the history of gender. This is because she has adopted varying theories in her work including psychoanalysis theory, feminism perspectives, patriarchy theory, Marxist theory, powers of desire, and object-relations theory.  

In comparison to other works, I believe Scott has done great on the issue of the history of gender in comparison to Janz and Schonpflug work Gender History in a Transnational Perspective. In this book, the authors explore the transnational aspect of international feminism, which is of great significance to researchers. However, we can see gaps as it only explores feminism aspects but we can borrow a concept or two fromScott’s’ss work to interpret the book. For example, Scott argues that every feminism work tackles the issues of masculinity, as there is no feminism without relying on masculinity to define the concepts.  Another example is Gender and Corruption: Historical Roots and new avenues for research. In addition to gender and corruption, this book discusses issues of historical roots of gender issues. In the book, there are few interpretations of gender but not extensive as applied by Scott in her work. 

Significance of gender at the Period

At the period, historians anticipatapplyingply issues of gender to the varying issues arising based on sexual variations. It is in the same era that systems like patriarchy were in leadership positions. Women were less presented in all facets of lives – politically, socially, economically, and they were viewed as the lesser sex. Due to this, it was intriguing that researchers conducted studies to analyze and understand the issues of gender in history. We see this from varying views and theories like Marxist feminisms and other feminism theories and approaches. 

Scott borrows some of the past events to analyze her work. For example, she explores views and works of feminist historians to derive and create her themes and events. Her view of the feminists’ historians’ vieillustratesate that her book is more on the feminism aspects of gender although she tends to illustrate it as an all-encompassing aspect. This is an indication that the work was written during a time when feminists were fighting for the rights of women. 

Personally, I think that this book is biased; although it tends to look and exploon history, it follows majorly on feminism issues of gender. However, I believe it is a great book that provides a historical interpretation of gender. It also uses other wide-ranging theories to explore the issue. Due to this, I believe this book is a scholarly material that adds information to the world of history. In addition, it is a vital book for future researchers where it can be used to create the literature review as a baseline for studies.  

Bibliography

Janz, Oliver, and Daniel Schönpflug. Gender History In A TransnatioPerspective:ve : Networks, Biographies, Gender Orders. 2nd ed. New York: Credo Reference, 2015.

Scott, Joan Wallach. “Gender: A Useful Category Of Historical Analysis,” In Gender And The Politics Of History.. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.Stensöta, Helena, and Lena Wängnerud. GendeCorruption:tion : Historical Roots And New Avenues For Research. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

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