Luca Trappolin (Università di Padova)
Paolo Gusmeroli (Università di Padova)


From 11:00
to 12:30
From 11:00
to 12:30

Course Description

The course will begin with a general overview of the emergence and the development of gender studies: main objects, topics, concepts and research perspectives. Classes will bring together notions from feminist studies, men’s studies, post-colonial studies, cultural studies and queer studies.
The aim of the course is to offer an introduction to gender studies, an interdisciplinary field of research focused on everyday life practices, social structures, discourses, representations, cultural objects and institutions where gendered identities are constructed, negotiated, resisted or subverted. Special attention will be given to the interplay between gender and sexuality.
Introducing a sociological constructivist approach, the primary goal is to give students the basic instruments to engage in critical analysis of current social phenomena and transformations that make gender a particularly relevant category of analysis. Why and how does gender matter in sociological terms? How do gender and sexuality work as social constructions and sources of inequality and domination?
Deconstructing the long-established representation of men’s social experience as universal in different geopolitical and cultural contexts, we will discuss the meaning of situated and embodied standpoints, vocabularies and discourses.
How do we experience the world as men and women?
At a structural level, we will debate on what kind of material and symbolic privileges are distributed along gender, sexual, class and race lines or stratifications. We will focus on exchanges of some particular social goods that take place within and between genders. In the first part of the course, we will critically consider key dimensions of gender stratification in the labour market, the family, the social constructions of bodies and the erotic capital. The second part of the course will address topics related to the construction of homosexual identities and the stratification within the LGBT communities.
Our perspective focuses on gender, women’s, feminist, LGBT and queer studies, considered both as expressions of society’s critical self-reflexivity, but also as the historical product of a particular (western) perspective.
Students will therefore be invited to collect and discuss social experiences and data (gender indicators of inequalities in education, family and the labour market) that refer to their own national or local contexts. Students are expected to develop a mid-term paper based on gender indicators from their countries. Papers will be presented and discussed after the mid-term break. Through collective discussions, students will answer the following questions: what are the most effective vocabularies that can describe gender inequalities in different types of society? How can we recognize and name post-patriarchal forms of sexism? How are norms of masculinities and femininities – intersecting with class, race and sexual identity – represented in public discourses and the mass media? Examples will be taken from the Italian as well as from other Western and Eastern contexts.

Specific topics touched on by the course will be the following:
• Gender, work and careers ;
• Family, socialization and the sexual division of labour ;
• Social constructions of gendered bodies
• The debate on Erotic Capital between empowerment and objectification

In the second part of the course, classes will address the following topics:
• The intersection of Gender and Sexuality
• The Social Construction of Homosexuality
• The Stratification of Homosexual Subjects


Learning outcomes of the course

• To gain knowledge and a critical sense of gender inequality today;
• To read, analyse and discuss theoretical and research texts on the course topics;
• To be introduced to direct observation as a method of enquiry.
• To learn to analyse public debates, cultural products, mass-media communication and policies, by applying the knowledge acquired during the lessons.


Evaluation method

Evaluation will be based on:
* 20% participation to class discussions and activities;
* 30% mid-term paper;
* 50% final paper.



Week 1
Introduction to the Sociology of Gender
Class 1: Presentation of the course (topics, activities and evaluation)
Class 2: How different are women and men?

Week 2
Problems and approaches
Class 1: The Sociology of Gender (1)
Class 2: The sociology of gender (2)

Week 3
Problems and approaches
Class 1: Gender in everyday life
Class 2: Gender as social structure

Week 4
Gender “at work”
Class 1: Men’s and women’s careers and choices
Class 2: The gender system in the economic organizations

Week 5
Gender in the family
Class 1: Socialization, roles and identities
Class 2: The sexual division of labor in the family

Week 6
Gender and the body
Class 1: Social constructions of women’s bodies
Class 2: Social constructions of men’s bodies

Week 7
Mid-term break

Week 8
Gender snapshots from different national contexts
Class 1: Presentation and discussion of students’ mid-term papers
Class 2: Presentation and discussion of students’ mid-term papers

Week 9
Gender snapshots from different national contexts
Class 1: Presentation and discussion of students’ mid-term papers
Class 2: Presentation and discussion of students’ mid-term papers

Week 10
Debating the concept of Erotic capital
Class 1: Erotic capital as empowerment
Class 2: Erotic capital and bodies’ objectification

Week 11
From Gender to Sexuality
Class 1: Thinking Sex
Class 2: The intersection of Gender and Sexuality

Week 12
The Social Construction of Homosexuality
Class 1: Structural Foundations of the Gay World
Class 2: Masculinity and Homophobia

Week 13
The Stratification of Homosexual Subjects
Class 1: Homophobic Violence, Cultural Essentialism and Sexual Identities
Class 2: Gay Imperialism and Homonormativity

Week 14: Exams

* Wharton, Amy (2005), The Sociology of gender: An Introduction to theory and research, chapter 1, pages 1-16.
* Holmes, Mary (2007), What is Gender? Sociological Approaches, Sage

Other book chapters and articles will be provided in PDF format through the Moodle platform.


Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

VAT: 02928970272