Gender Structure Book
While the study of gender has become legitimate and even central to the field of sociology, the conceptualization of the term “gender” remains remarkably vague and disputed. In this book, Professor Risman traces the history of ideas and development of the use of gender in sociological theory, and analysis. She then offers her own feminist theory of gender as a social structure. This is a major revision of her argument about how social change towards gender equality might effectively occur with far more attention to cultural issues. The book provides elaboration of how gender is constructed and sometimes deconstructed at the individual, interactional and institutional levels. She illustrates the use of efficacy of her theoretical argument with three different research studies:. The first study is based on life history interviews with young people between 18 and 30 about the meaning of gender in their lives. The second study is based on a major national survey of college students, as well as nearly 100 interviews with UIC students about sexuality. The third study is an analysis of the effectiveness of major federal grants to universities to do "gender transformation" projects; the data are both based on a meta-analysis of new research and an analysis of both quantitative climate surveys and interviews with people involved in the project at the UIC. The book concludes with a utopian vision for a society that has moved beyond gender.
Feminists Wrestle with Testosterone
In a research study co-authored with Shannon Davis, Professor Risman is re-analyzing data which suggests “biological constraints on gender.” This analysis uses longitudinal quantitative data to assess the relative causal impact of hormones experienced in utero, remembered parental socialization, and the demand characteristics of adult social roles on women's self-reported sense of personality traits such as aggressiveness, nurturance, and ambition (e.g. usually labeled femininity and masculinity). While the authors predicted immediate life factors would be the most powerful, childhood socialization effects are most predictive of current self-reports of gendered personality traits. There remains a small but statistical effect of hormones in utero on self-reports of adult women. The research was discussed in a panel on Gender and Biology at the 2011 meetings of the American Sociological Association. The study is now published in Social Science Research.
Professor Risman has a current research project collaborating with graduate students and a group of undergraduates to investigate the college “hook up” culture. While recent studies document the emergence of hooking up as a new sexual script among college students, most of the research is based on white middle-class students at residential universities. Dr. Risman broadens this research with her study on a diverse group of undergraduates at UIC, an urban campus where more than half the students commute. In 2008, Dr. Risman brought the Online College Social Life Survey (OCSLS) led by NYU Professor Paula England, a national investigation of collegiate social life, to UIC. The quantitative data collection is complete with over two thousand students participating. The next phase of the research, in collaboration with graduate student Rachel Allison, was to conduct semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 76 undergraduates. The most recent phase of the project, in collaboration with graduate students Amanda Stewart and Ray Sin has targeted undergraduates who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer for in-depth interviews. To date, over 100 total interviews have been conducted. Analysis is now proceeding. The first paper explores sexual attitudes among the national OCSLS sample, with a particular interest in whether participating in mainstream campus organizations such as Greek life or varsity athletics creates social networks that influence attitudes towards, and experiences with, hooking up. This paper co-authored with Rachel Allison is now published in Social Science Research. Another paper based on the interview data suggests that the "hooking up" rhetoric is used nearly exclusively by middle-class residentially independent studies, and very rarely by the more working-class commuters who lived at home with their parents. This study is published in Sociological Perspectives. Future work will spotlight the sexual experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer young adults. The project is on-going.
Download Barbara's CV here: RismanCV
Research Interests: Gender Inequality, Families, Feminist Activism, and Public Sociology
Davis, Shannon and Barbara J. Risman. 2014. "Feminists Wrestle with Testosterone: Hormones, Socialization and Cultural Interactionism as Predictors of Women’s Gendered Selves.” Social Science Research 49: 110-25
Allison, Rachel and Barbara J. Risman. 2014. “It goes hand in hand with the Parties: Race, Class and Residence in College Student Negotiations of Hooking up”. Sociological Perspective 57(1): 102-23.
Allison, Rachel and Barbara J. Risman. 2013. “A Double Standard for Hooking Up”: How Far Have we Come Towards Gender Equality?” Social Science Review. Vol. 42(5): 1190-1206
Risman, Barbara J. and Georgiann Davis. 2013. "From Sex Roles to Gender Structure." Current Sociology 61(5-6): 733-55
Barbara J. Risman and Pallavi Banerjee. 2013. “Kids Taking about Race: Tween-Agers in a Post Civil Rights Era”. Sociological Forum. 28 (2), 213-235.
Risman. 2011. “Gender as Structure or Trump Card?” Journal of Family Theory & Review 3:1.
Risman, Barbara J. (Ed.) 2010. Families as They Really Are. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Risman, Barbara J. 2004. "Gender as a Social Structure: Theory Wrestling with Activism." Gender & Society 18(4): 429-50
Risman, Barbara J., and Pepper Schwartz. 2002. “After the Sexual Revolution: Gender Politics in Teen Dating,” Contexts 1:1.
Reprinted in Sciences Humaines, Sept. 2002 (France).
Risman, Barbara J. 1998. Gender Vertigo: American Families in Transition. Yale University Press.