, Volume 61, Issue 5-6, pp 325-337
Date: 27 Mar 2009

Fixed Roles and Situated Actions

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Two visions have shaped research and theory on gender for at least 60 years. The older vision treats the genders as distinct roles that are strongly socialized and make women and men inherently different in all circumstances. The newer one treats gender as reflecting effects of different social structural relations, and it sees women and men as capable of displaying wide-ranging and overlapping responses. We clarify the two visions by stating five tenets of each. The visions affect a scholar’s choice of research topics, what one sees when women and men interact, the meanings attached to different behaviors and attitudes, how one interprets evidence, and how to know when a research question has received a satisfactory answer.