Weekly well as new challenges for everyone around

Weekly reading records

Week 7:

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In this extract, Woodward K. (2004) questions identity focusing on the
individual’s perception of themselves in relation to others through the
discipline of sociology. She goes on to explore how our world is becoming more and
more unstable, but prevailing changes offer new opportunities as well as new
challenges for everyone around the world. Woodward deliberates whether or not gender,
class and ethnicity offer lucidity about who we are, or if these factors are to
be seen as constraints on our autonomy to choose our own identities. Moreover,
she explores the philosophy behind whether or not we are bound by the social
constraints and inequalities which we are born into. This text gives an easily
graspable examination of identity by weaving references to multiple
social theorists such as Mead (1934), Williamson (1986), and Goffman (1959)
throughout the text to critically analyse how identities are shaped. Woodward
uses the evidence well to support his argument that identity is fluid and is
ever-changing. He puts forward the argument that we build our identities
through symbols and social interactions, as a result of living in a fast
growing changing society, our identities are regularly being challenged and
redefined.

 

week 8:

In This extract, Tsolidis, G. (2013) draws on a larger wealth of
knowledge about diaspora- (which is the dispersion of one group of people from
their homeland and relocating in another country)using the case study of the
Greek community of Melbourne, Australia to examine the means through which
young people from minority ethnic groups form their own identities. Tsolidis beguines
by describing the long-standing community as “diverse”, to then go onto
explaining that the young people who were involved in this study give an insight
into cultural processes through which their identities are constructed. In most
scenarios throughout he text, it was the young people’s grandparents or
great-grandparents who migrated to from Greece to Melbourne which tells us that
they don’t have a first-hand experience of the Greek culture. Through an
anthropological scope, this article examines the essence of what “home” is in
these young people’s self-identification, whether it’s the place in which they
are born and raised or the homeland to which they belong to through kinship. Drawing
on De Certeau’s (2001) work, Tsolidis, G. puts forward the argument that the
young people’s daily experience can be seen as an act of “anti-discipline.” as
“users” of the Greek identity, they are bestowed through family, community, and
schooling, meaning this that some part of their identity is inherited rather
than developed. Further, the young people use “tactics” of cultural alteration
which allow for the fusion of both “Greekness” and “Australianness.” This
demonstrates that although some may share two or more nationalities they can
adopt the cultures which come from both sides to shape their identity.

 

Week 9:

In
this extract, Eriksen (2010) presents a clear outline of
anthropology, targeting fundamental topics to the discipline, such as, age,
gender, and ethnicity, offering an array of examples which exhibit the vast
scope of anthropology and the essence of identity around the world. What makes ‘Small
Places, Large Issues’ (2010) so potent in presenting argument on the subject of
age, gender and identity is his reviews of crucial monographs to illustrate his
argument. Eriksen’s clear and accessible text analyses the evidence coherently
as he picks apart the main argument made by ethnographers such as Weiner
(1988), Rosaldo and Lamphere (1974) and Bamberger (1988). What I find
interesting is that Eriksen delves deep into the distinct difference in moral
values that men and woman hold by putting forward the example of the two gendered
values in the Carrabin; men peruse to enhance their reputation; however, woman strive
to gain respectability which entails two different ways of perceiving and
experiencing the world (Wilson E. O 1978). Moreover, Eriksen talks about the
complexity of explaining or pinpointing what gender is for example in certain
societies, gay men are considered to be “intermediate” meaning they are nor
male nor female.  This exemplifies the
alteration in the definition of traditional male and female gender
characteristics.

 

 

Week 10:

After having carried
out a considerable amount of anthropological fieldwork in Calcutta, India, Donner, H. (2016) presents unprecedented ethnography
on the way in which the newly immerging middle-class, pacifically women, experience
economic prosperity through the evolution of their family life. Initially, this
extract explored intimate components of the woman’s lives, by analysing their
experience of marriage and childbirth, then proceeds to examine the repercussions
globalisation is having on the newly immerging middle classes in Asia,
specifically from a domestic point of view to explain how this is re-defining
woman’s identity. By making maternity the focal point in her writing, Donner
explores how the family is affected by the newly immerging neo-liberal
ideologies. Donner sheds some light on women’s influence as “wives mothers and
grandmothers” (p17) in these new structure, Domestic Goddesses confer the experiences
of the different generation whose identities are going to be affected by changes
as they recognise that woman’s identities are transforming according to changes
to attitudes in society. Through a precise evaluation of women’s narratives, Donner
concludes that the domestic sphere represents the key location for the
regeneration of Indian middle-class citizens in a globalised world. This
unprecedented insight into the class system through the family structure is
unusual but very effective in explaining the most fundamental factors
contributing woman’s experience of social class.

 

Week 11:

In the newest edition of her book, Cockburn. C (2015) gives the
reader an in-depth account of the most important theories and issues on gender
identity with reference to theorist such as Peterson
and Runyan (1993), Enloe W G (1996) and (Kramer 2000: 8), we
find that the book is written from a feminist perspective, explaining the importance to
contemporary global issues such as human rights, rape in war, terrorism, human
and arms trafficking while discussing woman’s experience of identity and sexuality in
the context of war.
Furthermore, the insights of feminist theory are often merged with a range of
other disciplines including International Relations (hence forth IR) to create
a new perspective entirely: Feminist IR. I believe this has changed the way we
look at feminism as it is no longer a stand-alone theory but is now linked with
a discipline which examines global issues surrounding age gender and ethnicity.
This
extract considers how contemporary the military has become as they are
increasing the inclusion of women in a range of new roles within the armed
forces. Cockburn’s (2015) main argument is that we must stay wary of feminist
political goals of gender equality and to do so, it is important for frameworks
such as feminism to by emphasising and reinserted in institutions such as the
military.

 

 

Critical Analysis Essay

 

I
have chosen to look at the readings by Jane K Cowan (1991) and Patricia Hill
Collins (1999) because of my deep-rooted interest in discourses surrounding
gender identity and feminism, I especially like to read on research which gives
a peculiar scope of feminism and I believe the readings I chose do just that.

 

In this extract,
anthropologist Jane K. Cowan (1991) provides an extensive yet highly refined
outlook of what it is like to be a Greek woman or man, married or unmarried, living
in a convoluted society which is heavily family orientated. Cowan (1991) examines
the ways in which identity is formed, as she discusses, how going out for
coffee encompasses predominant notions about autonomy, morality and female
sexuality. The author questions why men in the Greek village of Sohos perpetuate
elaborate friendships with neighbours and people of the village while the women
do not. This chapter explains the way in which gender identities in Greece are
not unitary and fixed but are continually being redefined by contexts and
social change.

This text has had a significant contribution to how we grasp
gender identity in the field of anthropology in the 90s, as Cowan (1991)
explores the ways in which gender is a social and cultural construction and how
individuals experience it. This text delineates, with great detail how the
“mundane” (Cowan,1991, p180) activity of coffee drinking, which is a leisure
activity for the people of Sohos, is both gender segregated and encoded with
notions around gender differences. With the influence of renounced sociologists
and ethnographers such as P. Bourdieu (1978), Foucault (1978, 1979) and Gramsci
(1971), Cowen carried out a longitudinal study which delves into the numerous
ways in which perceptions about women’s sexuality and autonomy are encapsulated in manner of sociability.
Cowan then explains how the emergence of an unfamiliar sort of leisure
establishment, described by the locals as “an attempt to create
an ambience of urban, Eu-ropean sophistication” (Cowan, 1991,
p190), the Kafeteria, has redefined the traditional separation of leisure space
between men and women and generated a new space where predominant definitions
of female personhood are contested by attracting a new demographic of young
people who no longer conform to the long-established segregated gendered
sociability.

A noticeable quality to this text is that Cowan
avoided the use of complex scholarly language found in many anthropological
textbooks but still communicates a complex discourse adequately. However,
we cannot ignore a noticeable shortcoming which is that the fieldwork she
carried out is a micro level piece of research and is only representative of a
small fraction of women’s experience with gender identity, therefore, we cannot
generalise her study to give us a wider picture of how women experience
everyday sociability around the world. Moreover, Cowan’s research excludes
narratives of women from different cultures and backgrounds. I believe that intersectionality
is a crucial component when discussing identity as the variety of axes contributing
to women’s identity could add a great wealth of information about how women
experience the world. A Further weakness of this text is that it is now dated
(1991) and is only useful to as hindsight to map progress made in braking down
the segregation in in everyday sociability based on gender.

 

In addition, the chosen research methods may have caused some
limitations on the findings as Cowan used overt observation to gather
information. Although, overt observation is an ethical way of conducting research,
it results in the Hawthorne (Landsberger H A.
1943)
effect, which is when people alter their behaviour
since they know they are being observed and attempt to impress the observer
through acting how they think the observer wants them to act, therefore we
don’t know if the girls’ opinions which the writer used to conclude the chapter
are authentic. This is because the author’s daily presence with the group of
girls she observed might have influenced their opinions on feminism and made
them feel more empower– they might feel they must hold feminist views.

 

Still
exploring the theme of women’s gender identity, however, now talking it from
the theoretical perspective of sociology, I believe, unlike Cowan (1991), Patricia
Hill Collins (1999) provides a more diverse discourse which explains women’s
identity more broadly. With reference to and consolidation on texts previously
written by black feminists such as Angela
Davis, Bell Hooks (1981), Alice Walker (1982), and Audre Lorde (1984), Collins
analyses the intersections of race, gender, sexuality and
class which gives a more graspable and relatable idea of how identity is
sculpted and influenced by various axis other than gender. One quote which I
think encompasses this idea effectively is when she says, “Race and gender may be analytically distinct, but in Black women’s
everyday lives, they work together.” – Collins (1999, p 257) this demonstrates that female
identity is a build-up of different factors which cannot be overlooked or
disregarded as the combination of them all makes us who we are and as a result
it influences the way we experience our day to day lives.  In one of the chapters
titled “Sexual
Politics” I’ve noticed that while Collins correctly identifies the history
of black woman’s relationship with “sex work and pornography” (p 387), it is disappointing
that she breaks the pattern of constantly backing up her argument with case
studies, as she chooses to ignore the experiences of any actual sex workers,
but instead privileging the voices of non-sex worker academics. While reading
this chapter I felt a sense of anti-sex work attitude as Collins’ arguments in
this chapters take an overly homogenous, outsiders view of sex workers’ lives I
believe this to be unnecessary as she is a feminist who’s discourse is mainly constructed
for female empowerment. Further, her analysis fails to acknowledge the experience
of Black trans women and hardly engages with the experiences of all queer Black
women, when comparing this reading to other feminist texts speaking of female
identity, it is barely notable that Collins fails to thoroughly investigate the
experience of LBTQ+ women, however, the main aim of this text is to shed light
on how every single aspect of intersectionality no matter how small influences
our identity.

 

To conclude, both pieces of text have
elaborated on my knowledge of feminism gender identity and intersectionality,
as I am now more informed on the array of axes that can either enhance or
deteriorate the experience of one’s identity. With this knowledge, I believe I
will be able to identify that each person has a unique experience of identity.