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 studies, post-colonial studies, cultural studies and queer studies.

Aim of the course is to offer an introduction on gender studies, an interdisciplinary field of research focused on every day-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 makes 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 reason about 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 of stratifications. We will focus on exchanges of some particular social goods that take place into and between genders. We will critically consider, in particular, emotional labor and erotic capital as key dimensions related to phenomena of sexual and gender stratification, and social recognition. Furthermore, the final part of the course will address topics related to the construction of homosexual identities.

Our perspective is placed in gender, women’s, feminist, Lgbt and queer studies, considered as both an expression of society critical self-reflexivity, but also as the historical product of a particular (western) perspective.

Therefore, students will be invited to collect and discuss social experiences and data (gender indicators of inequalities in education, family and labor 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 reak. 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 norms of masculinities and femininities – intersected with class, race and sexual identity – are represented in public discourses and mass media? Examples will refer to the Italian context as well as other Western and Eastern contexts.

The final paper will develop the mid-term one or provide an analysis one selected topic.

Specific topics of the course will be the following:

  • The emergence and development of the sociological interest on gender;
  • The gendered division of labor and the sex segregation of job;
  • Erotic capital and emotional labor.

In the second part of the course, classes will address the following topics:

  • The violation of gender norms and the pluralization of gender identities in western societies: homosexuality and homophobia;
  • Homosexual families and parenthood.   


Learning outcomes of the course

  •  To gain knowledge and a critical sense of gender inequality today;
    •    To read, analyze and discuss theoretical and research texts on the course topics;
  •  To be introduced to direct observation as method of enquiry.
    •    To learn to analyze 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
Topics and approaches in the Sociology of Gender

Class 1: Introduction to the course
Class 2: The sociology of gender 1 (Erving Goffman (1977), The Arrangement between the Sexes, pages 301-331.

Week 2

Topics and approaches in the Sociology of Gender
Class 1: How different are women and men? (Mary Holmes (2007), What is gender? Sociological approaches, chapter 2, pages 18-39)
Class 2: The sociology of gender 2 (Amy S. Wharton (2005), The Sociology of gender: An Introduction to theory and research, chapter 1, pages 1-16)

Week 3

How it all begun: Going back to Gail Rubin
Class 1: Inventing the scientific concept of gender: G. Rubin (1975), The Traffic in Women

Class 2: Discussion of Rubin 1975, The Traffic in Women

Week 4

Social structures and gender inequalities

Class 1: Gendered Jobs and Gendered Workers (Joan Acker, 1990, Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizations, pages 139-158).

Class 2:  (C. Hakim, 1998, Developing a Sociology for the Twenty-First Century: Preference Theory, pages 137-143).

Week 5
Emotions at work

Class 1: Amy Wharton, 2009, The Sociology of Emotional Labor, pages 147-165.

Class 2: Arlie Russell Hochschild, 1997, The Time Bind, pages 21-29)

Mid-term break

Week 6

Gender snapshots from different national contexts

Class 1: Presentation and discussion of students’ work

Class 2: Presentation and discussion of students’ work

Week 7

Gender snapshots from different national contexts

Class 1: Presentation and discussion of students’ work

Class 2: Presentation and discussion of students’ work

Week 8
From Gender to Sexuality

Class 1: Gayle Rubin, 1984, Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality

Class 2: Discussion on Gayle Rubin 1984

Week 9

Sex Wars

Class 1: Ann Ferguson, 1984, Sex War: The Debate between Radical and Libertarian Feminists

Class 2: Discussion of Ferguson, 1984.

Week 10
Erotic capital

Class 1: Catherine Hakim, 2016, The Sugar in His Tea: Sexuality, Patriarchy and Sexual Politics

Class 2: Discussion of C. Hakim, 2016

Week 11

Stratification of homosexual identities

Class 1: Stratification of homosexual identities in a globalized world

Class 2: Discussion

Week 12
Homosexual families and parenthood

Class 1: What makes a family, perspectives and debates

Class 2: Discussion

Week 13: 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 books’ 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