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. A preliminary view of this revised theory of gender as social structure is published in Dr. Risman’s presidential speech for the Southern Sociological Society, Social Currents ( 2017). The theory is revised to pay more attention to the culture at each level of analysis. Risman then uses the gender as a social structure framework to analyze data from over a hundred interviews with Millennials. She identifies the different pathways young people today take to navigate the gender structure. The book concludes with a utopian vision for a society that has moved beyond gender. A video of Barbara describing gender structure theory has been published as a teaching tool in Sage Knowledge.
"Risman (Univ. of Illinois at Chicago) led a team that interviewed 116 college students who came of age after 2000 (the generation known as Millennials). The ambitious goal was to map these emerging adults’ experiences and attitudes about the extent, sources, and salience of gender differences and inequality. Risman devotes a chapter to each of the four clusters of respondents’ ideas the researchers identified: true believers, innovators, rebels, and straddlers. The empirical materials are fascinating, and Risman’s exposition —presenting individual portraits and exploring puzzles and variations within and across types—is insightful, organized, and accessible. Risman doesn’t stop at excerpting fascinating interviews with diverse young adults. She has thoroughly re-thought her multi-level theory of gender as a social structure. The revised conceptual apparatus enriches the data collection, analysis, and interpretation. The new evidence in turn bolsters Risman’s theory of how interactions, cultural beliefs, expectations, and organizational rules and practices produce, position, and police women and men as essentially different and unequal. Even better, her findings about Millennials inform Risman’s assessment of crisis tendencies and her vision of strategies to demolish gender."
--L. D. Brush, University of Pittsburgh
“From the ‘true believers’ who remain gender traditionalists to the ‘rebels’ who hope to dismantle gender altogether, Barbara Risman’s insightful analysis provides a roadmap for making sense of the dizzying array of gender strategies emerging in twenty-first century America. This important book extends and refines Risman’s pioneering work on gender as a social structure. It belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who wishes to understand the fundamental changes transforming the very meaning of gender.” --Kathleen Gerson, New York University
“The era of ‘gender vertigo’ is here: confusing, creative, unsettled, and unsettling. Bouncing between ideas as radically divergent as fundamentalist religion and queer theory, Millennials are forging their own gendered paths, sometimes undoing gender altogether. This is a first look at how young people are responding to the gender revolution they’ve inherited, one that reveals a kaleidoscope of identities and offers a new vision for the future.” --Lisa Wade, PhD, author of American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus
“Provocative, timely, and lucid, Where the Millennials Will Take Us provides a powerful framework for studying gender and inequality today. Risman relies on her participants’ ideas and lives to identify cracks in gendered structures, helping us consider how we might exploit these to affect change. This book is bound to provoke conversation and, just perhaps, a bit of necessary controversy as well.” --Tristan Bridges, University of California, Santa Barbara
Professor Risman and several graduate and undergraduate students have already started data collection for her next book. This book takes up where the last one left off, with a more in depth study of the “rebels,” the Millennials who reject gender categories all together. Interviews have begun, and Dr. Risman is currently writing a grant to be able to do a national study. In collaboration with Carissa Froyum Roise and William Scarborough, Professor Risman is currently finishing editing a Handbook of Gender Sociology (Springer Publishers, 2018). This Handbook includes both current leading scholars and up and coming ones as well, and is designed for doctoral students taking examinations in the field of gender. Also in collaboration with current and former students William Scarborough and Ray Sin, Professor Risman has been analyzing nationally representative data to answer the question as to whether Millennials as a generation are more, or less, traditional about the gender structure then those who came before them.
Download Barbara's CV here:
Gender Inequality, Families, Feminist Activism, and Public Sociology
Risman, Barbara J., Carissa Froyum Roisse and William Scarborough. (editors) Handbook of the Sociology of Gender. Springer Publishers.
Risman, Barbara J. 2018. Where the Millennials Will Take Us: A New Generation Wrestles with the Gender Structure. Oxford University Press.
Risman, Davis and Virginia Rutter. (eds). 2015. Families As They Really Are. 2nd Ed. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
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
Adkins, Timothy, Paula England, Barbara J. Risman and Jessie Ford. 2015. "Does the Sex Ratio Matter for Hooking Up and Having Sex at College?" Social Currents 2: 144-62
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. 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.