Sex and Gender Roles, Division of Labor in

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    In response to the emergence of second-wave feminism in the 1970s, many anthropologists turned to the critical question of sex differences in the societies we study (e.g., see Reiter 1975; Rosaldo and Lamphere 1974) and the sexual division of labor emerged as a critical area of inquiry. Feminist anthropologists have taken up histori-cal and comparative perspectives on the sexual division of labor as a fundamental step in understanding gendered power. Is the sexual division of tasks, found in some form everywhere, always linked to male power over women? Does the critical and specific role of women in biological reproduction account for the sexual division of labor and for women’s subordination which was deemed a universal fact? Some form of sexual division of labor appeared to be a sociocultural universal. In the case of horticultural communities, for example, it is often men who are tasked with clearing the fields while women have responsibility for weeding. Ester Boserup (1970) noted that the introduction of the plow universally led to soil preparation becoming men’s work.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe International Encyclopedia of Anthropology
    Editors Hilary Callan
    Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
    PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Ltd.
    ISBN (Print)9781118924396
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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