Gender and History of Western Europe

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Gender  and  history  have combined  in the last three decades to produce new understandings of how events, social structures,  and fundamental elements of culture operate  in Western  Europe.  Historical  analysis  has come  to  recognize  gender  as  relational systems  of power in which both men and women operate  and to which  both  contribute  as  agents  and  members  of larger cultural constructs. The principle developments in  gender   and   history   emerged   as  social  history concerns focused on women gave way to poststructuralist and  postmodern critiques  of  historical practice. The linguistic or cultural turn has shaped the premises and practices of gender and history so as to reveal how gender saturates categories of culture once presumptively  believed to be scientifically neutral.

Rooted initially in the women’s movements in America and Western Europe  as they emerged out of the new social movements of the 1960s, gender history began as women’s history. Most early explorations of women’s historical experience operated within a social history  paradigm, seeking out neglected materials  to recuperate  lives long deemed irrelevant  to traditional modes  of historical  research.  While some advocated pursuing  women’s history  in isolation  as a political choice  highlighting  the  patriarchal qualities  of  apparently  objective history,  others argued for recuperating the causes and frameworks  of female erasure in the  context  of larger  historical  narratives  (see Bock 1989 for a consideration of both positions). The notion that  women were best analyzed  in the wider cultural context came to predominate, in part because of epistemological concerns within history as a discipline.

1.    Fundaments Of Gendered Discourse

As social  relations  are  carried  out  in language  and culture,  gender  and  history  have  been  informed  by post-structuralist understandings of language and postmodern analyses of culture.  While these overlap significantly, particularly in seeing culture as symbolic and expressed in language, the emphases are distinct. Theorists  and  historians  who have studied  language argue  that  attention must  be paid  to  the  historical specificity of linguistic constructions and to the general gender inflections language encodes. The questioning of a tacit acceptance that language is ‘neutral’ revealed how all communication is endowed with the power of social  custom  and  historical  practice.  The  ‘cultural turn’ similarly challenges the neutrality of older explanatory models,  positing  that  all  inquiry  must admit  that  culture constructs  meaning. Culture  is the primary  object of inquiry  in this formulation, rather than language.

1.1    Taking The ‘Cultural Turn’

The  ‘new  cultural   history’  emerged  from  dissatisfaction with the limitations of social history and engagement  with post-structuralist critiques.  Historical analysis revealed huge variations in social categories over time and place. Instead of a coherent understanding of the social in the past, the picture just became  more  and  more  complex.  Post-structuralists like Jacques Derrida  and Michel Foucault challenged the  tenets  of  scientific  truth   and  objective  reality posited   by   structuralism.   Historians   accordingly turned   to  culture  as  an  explanatory device.  While ‘culture’ is a slippery  term,  new cultural  history  included concerns about the methodologies  of historical practice, an epistemological skepticism with respect to narrative  truth  claims, and an interest in culture  as a symbolic or semiotic system (Bonnell and Hunt 1999). The  cultural  turn  opened  up  new ways to  examine problems and issues related to gender as an artifact of culture and a determinant of symbolic configurations.

1.2    Gender, Language, And Historical Analysis

Post-structuralist analysis contributed to an awareness of  language  as  constructed by  context,  while  poststructuralist feminism articulated how gender  difference  is  formulated in  language  rather   than  in  the referent,   and  materiality   is  produced   by  linguistic formations. Seemingly ‘natural’  things  (like bodies) are actually complex constructions. Gender is created by interactions of individuals,  institutions, and social norms. The repetitive quality of perceived sexual difference is produced  by discreet, contingent  experiences. These experiences are inscribed in language and shape notions  of sexual difference. For  instance,  the term ‘biology,’ in describing sexual difference, is taken to  be  neutral,   scientific  fact.  But  ‘biology’  has  a history which belies its apparent neutrality. It was an early nineteenth-century term to describe sexual differences in early ‘nature vs. nurture’  debates concerning human  development.   ‘Biology’ in  some  circles was utilized to normalize gender bias: women’s differences were in need of explanation. The persistent association of men with culture and women with biology points to the power embedded in language (Bock 1989).

Analysis of the discursive  constructs  of gender  in historical terms has been formulated in the context of postmodern theories  of language  and  subject formation.  Luce  Irigaray  (1985) has  attempted to  rewrite sexual difference without the binary of masculine– feminine, arguing for a ‘labial politics’ which privileges female embodiment  as a way of revaluing  the binary and  hierarchical  notions  of gender.  Moi  (1985) has expressed concern that Irigaray’s position is essentialist and ahistorical, but Irigaray’s  poetic rendering  of the  problem  has inspired  interrogations of the  relational positioning of masculine and feminine values in history.

Anglo-American theorists have generally been more materialist,  but  efforts  have  been  made  to  utilize French linguistic deconstruction in historical analysis. Joan Scott (1988) argues that gender as formulated in language  can  be  analyzed  by  drawing  on  deconstruction to dismantle hierarchical binaries of language in  historical  settings.  Social  relationships based  on notions of sexual difference include within them power dynamics, the experience of which can be traced over time.  Expressions   of  gender   and   power  occur   in cultural  symbols, in the conceptualization of institutions, in kinship systems, and in subjective identity. Gender becomes a way to understand how society has been organized around the power differentials embedded in notions  of difference.

The  focus  on  discursive  formations to  some  has risked the effacement  of agency and  the dispersal  of explanatory models of historical change. Prompted by such fears, many historians  have self-consciously paid attention to issues of agency. Concerns remain that the role of gender in producing  larger historical change is not apparent, and efforts continue to articulate  causal relationships between expressions of gender in culture or language and events or persons.

2.    Gender And Identity Formation

That gender historically has been a component of identity  seems difficult  to  dispute.  In  the  twentieth century,  identity  has been located  largely in psychosexual development, while other components of identity  (work,  family,  religious  affiliation)   are  seen  as cultural overlays. Whether through differentiating the subject through knowledge of genital difference (Sigmund Freud) or through language in the mirror stage (Jacques Lacan), gender difference is considered foundational to notions  of identity.

2.1    Histories Of Sexualities

In the psychosexual models of identity, biological sex and gender constitute  identity even though  historians have noted that sexuality has not always been regarded as  foundational.  Much   historical   work   has  been devoted  to  understanding the  meanings  attached  to sexuality and sexual behaviors in the past as key areas in which gender operates.  The resulting  explorations have at once brought into question  the psychosexual account  of the meaning  of sexuality and  introduced new paradigms  in which sexuality  is seen as experienced in relation  to society and power.

The history of sexuality reflects the problem of how to treat  the sex/gender  system historically.  The separation of sex from gender allows for a more precise rendering  of  the  effects  of  embedded  assumptions. ‘Sex’ as  anatomical  difference   between   male  and female bodies is theoretically distinct from ‘gender’ as the social processes of becoming male or female. The history of sexuality has focused on gender in this sense because mapping sex and gender separately has proved ontologically unsatisfying. Unlike other domains in which gender was first recuperative and then theorized, the  history  of sexuality  was framed  initially  in discursive terms and  then the particulars of past  sexual experience were recovered.

Michel Foucault’s  The History  of Sexuality  (1978) situated  the  history  of  sexuality  in  an  analytics  of power.  Outlining  a model  of power  as operating in elliptical, subversive, and counter-intuitive ways, Foucault  moved  away  from  narrative  forms  which  did little to suggest how or why attitudes toward sexuality changed over time. Examining the cultural  and social forces which constrained and  policed  expressions  of sexuality, Foucault found that a proliferation of discourse brought the body and its functions under the pervasive   view  of  larger   structures   of  authority, namely the church and the state. Foucault challenged the  standard  paradigm that   Victorian   prudery   replaced  a more  frank  and  free sexual  climate  which lasted until the seventeenth century. Instead, Early Modern  Europeans lived amidst a whole host of structures   which  directed  sexuality,  while  the  Victorians  talked about  sex and talked about  not talking about  it all the time. They moved sex into the home behind  closed doors  and  shrouded  it in secrecy, but Victorians  who  tried  to  shield children  from  sexual knowledge and restrict sexuality to heterosexual monogamous  relationships had the effect of proliferating discourse  about  sex. The proliferation of discourses brought the body and its functions—ironically, given the purported interest  in making  sex more private— under the more pervasive view of larger structures  of power and authority, namely the church and the state. Foucault’s   understanding of  sexuality  as  having  a history and that this history was integrally intertwined with institutionalized power structures  opened up historical analysis to the implications of sexuality with respect to both gender and sex.

The absence of actual  agents  and  questions  about the particulars of Foucault’s  revised narrative  encouraged explorations of the relationship between gender and sex. Much work has been devoted to recuperating the  human  and  historical  specificity of the  discursive  environment Foucault  described  by locating behavior previously ignored or undetected. Explorations of sexual rituals  such as courtship  and marriage  have  revealed  how  social  constructions of sexuality operated in the past  (Evans 1993). Topical issues include  deviance,  the  implications  of sexually transmitted disease, and sexual coercion and violence. Historical  specificity has  made  it clear that  the  emphasis on modern  notions  of identity as a product of sexuality are quite recent. The recuperation of a multiplicity of sexualities which are not linked necessarily to underlying  identity  formations has provided ammunition for opponents of tradition-based sexual policies. The claims of universal  ‘right’ and  ‘wrong’ lose their explanatory power in the face of historical variation.

2.2    Gendered Embodiment

The history of sexuality has been linked to new conceptualizations of the body. Western  thought for much of modernity has downplayed the importance of the  materiality  of corporeal  existence.  The  thinking subject was typically represented as pure intellect, as if the mind operated without a body. Gender and history have called into question the disembodied thinking subject and  the corporeal  body  as a stable,  material object.

Since  Descartes’   distinction   between  intelligence and thought (res cogitans) and corporeal existence (res extensa), the mind–body  split he posited allowed for a notion of the body as a machine which obeyed laws of ‘nature.’ That ‘nature’ resolutely defined certain types of bodies (white, male) as normative  while all others were lesser, inferior, or uninteresting remained largely unquestioned. Historians demonstrated that scientific disciplines including medicine, anatomy, and anthropology produced  a hierarchized  model of sexual and racial  difference  based  on the normative  white male body. The menstruating, lactating, reproducing female body  was the  epitome  of difference  and  inferiority. Historically,  pressure  to police, control,  and  contain the  persistent   physicality  of  the  female  body  was chronic.

Coming out of feminist concerns about social difference as inscribed on female bodies, the historians of the body have moved on to question the assumption that the body is always and everywhere constitutive  of the self in the same ways. Feminist  scholarship  in the 1970s frequently  engaged with the question  of ‘essentialism’ as opposed to social construction. The central debate  was whether  men and  women  had  ‘essential’ biological differences or were different because of socially constructed ideas and norms (Riley 1988). The body was a particularly fierce battleground, since so much of female oppression seemed tied to bodily functions. While some argued that female corporeality defined in terms of reproduction caused women’s oppression,  others were less pessimistic. Cultural feminists and  activists  in the women’s health  movement embraced the female body as the source of specifically feminine ethical sensibilities. The distinctive qualities claimed for the female body signaled the limitations of the debate as few initially questioned the epistemological  grounding  of biological difference.

Because of the existence of biological difference between  male  and  female  bodies,  essentialism  was hard to put to rest. How could one theorize the body at all without  reference to essential differences? One direction  was to explore understandings of the body over time. Historians of the body found that the meanings attached  to the seemingly stable facticity of the body  were not  really stable  at all. Even the idea that  there  are  two  sexes was  relatively  new.  From ancient Greece until the late seventeenth  century, the dominant model  was that  there  was only one sex— male—and that women were simply the inversion of it (Laqueur  1990). While some have questioned whether the  single  sex model  was  entirely  dominant,  much scientific thought organized  its understanding of the body  and  its  functions  on  the  one  sex model.  The cultural  addenda  to  the  one  sex model  were astonishing in their range and importance, particularly for notions  of sexuality.  For  instance,  cultural  wisdom held that  women  needed  penetrative  sex to  keep all their organs in the proper place and in working order.

Another mode of inquiry began to question the very existence of corporeal embodiment. The materiality of the  body  can  be  seen  as  a  function   of  text  and physicality. This is not to say that bodies do not exist. Rather, the body is always mediated  by context,  the social constructions, and the notions  of difference (of age, race, gender, mobility,  and so forth)  in which it exists. If embodiment  is no more or less real than the contexts which create it, the question remains whether the  conditions  of constraint in which female bodies seem to operate  can be dismantled  (Grosz 1994).

2.3    Instability And Masculinity

In many domains  of knowledge,  male bodies remain the unspoken  norm,  but efforts to historicize not just the male body but the ideas which are attached  to it as appropriately ‘masculine’ have suggested how difficult the  normative   position   is  to  maintain   in  practice. Gender  male is a product of men either succeeding or failing to embody appropriate behaviors.  Since many of these behaviors are negatively defined as being ‘not feminine,’ masculinity  is often  difficult to assert  and maintain   effectively,  and  masculinity  as  a  result  is often  highly  compensatory. A brief  examination of how concerns over masculinity have shaped larger ideological and historical configurations suggests how compensatory  strategies   of  masculinity   have   had significant effects on Western European society.

The  study  of masculinity  was initially  resisted  by some feminist scholars who came out of women’s studies. Many feared that masculinity was just another way of studying men—that historians who emphasized masculinity  were in a  sense highjacking  one  of  the central purposes of women’s studies, which was to restore  women to the history  written  largely by men and privileging, usually uncritically,  the male subject. But, as Natalie  Zemon Davis (1976) noted,  consideration of women in isolation  from men was rather  like imagining a class society consisting only of peasants. Ignoring  men  is no  better  intellectually  or  logically than ignoring women. The two operate in conjunction with each other  to create  historically  specific definitional frames for both masculinity and femininity. Studying one alone necessarily distorts  the picture.

It turns out that masculinity is often marked by the deliberate  absence of women, suggesting that  gender still constructs masculinity even without gender female physically present. John Tosh (1994) has argued that masculinity  is always,  in Western  society at  least,  a matter of public demonstration at home, at work, and in all-male  associations. The three  elements are mutually dependent and reinforcing, but also highly unstable.  Being able to establish  and  provide  for his family was a crucial marker  of male adulthood. The male  head  of  household   was  expected  to  maintain order and discipline in his family, and the failure to do so  marked   his  masculine   status   as  fundamentally suspect  (Davidoff  and  Hall  1987). As the  model  of marriage  became  less authoritarian and  the  idea  of separate   spheres  gained  acceptance,   masculinity   at home was often asserted by husbands with even greater vigor.  Although the  notion  of separate  spheres  has been challenged, the persistence of gender differentiation  was perceived as an important element  in masculine self-definition.

As Tosh  (1994) has  pointed  out,  work  was even more complex to negotiate than family. Work for nineteenth-century British  middle-class  men  had  to support  the family, but it also had to be dignified and the  man’s commitment to  it complete.  If work  was supposed  to be a vocation  for middle-class  men, for working-class  men, the mechanization of work represented  a serious  threat  to  his sense of self. Without work  defined  as ‘meaningful’  to  confirm  their  masculinity, male workers often insisted on more sharply distinctive  notions  of  appropriate male  and  female behavior. When women were workers, they were emphatically   assigned  to  different  tasks  that   were defined as inferior in terms of the skill levels required. Masculinity  in the workplace  thus  depended  on  the inferiority of women, expressed either as female incapacity  or as lesser status (Rose 1988).

Tosh’s third  element, male associations, includes a range  of institutions, from  boy scouts  to colleges to men’s dining  clubs. The homosociality of these and myriad other all-male settings provided practical supports for masculine privilege in terms of contacts and access to other men of power in the case of many adult organizations. More significantly, collective homosociality produced  the notion  that  masculinity was located solely in the company of men. The persistence of women’s discomfort  in the face of such expressions of masculinity remained and is still a powerful element shaping gender configurations.

Because masculinity  is defined  against  femininity, the  relationality of the  terms  makes  them  unstable. Historians, for instance,  have found that  masculinity was at times associated  with homosexuality  as an appropriate masculine  behavior.  In  Renaissance  Florence, homosexual  behavior was widespread despite being heavily penalized. The configuration of the older man as the active penetrator and the younger man as the passive penetrated partner were conceptualized  to support   notions  of  gender  hierarchy  which  posited men as active and women as passive. Denunciations of men for assuming  the incorrect  role were frequently accompanied by language which subsumed  the transgressor into negative female roles (Rocke 1996). Homosexual behavior  could support  masculinity  if it conformed   to  gender  norms,  but  was  increasingly figured as a threat  to appropriate masculine behavior in the nineteenth  century. The emergence of the New Woman  and the increasingly visible homosexual  subculture which deliberately played with the signifiers of masculinity  made for the assertion  of masculinity  as patriarchal  and  resolutely  heterosexual   (Showalter 1990).

Masculinity,  gender  historians   have  revealed,  is dependent  on  a range  of variables  which are  them-selves culturally  constructed. Because masculinity  is not always easy to inhabit  and because the stakes for men in losing the privileges which generally  accompany masculinity are very high, it is as much a source of anxiety  as of power.  The recent visibility of mass movements that emphasize masculinity and support  it with  emotional   language   and   highly  orchestrated collective   bonding    experiences   suggests   that   the anxiety is still very much present.

2.4    Gender Roles As Performance

Recent   efforts   to   explore   the   history   of  identity formation  have  incorporated  post-structuralist theories  to  tease  out  how  the  self  was  defined  in gendered  terms and how the gendered  self related  to others  and  to entities  such as the state.  Continental post-structuralist feminism has largely followed Jacques  Lacan’s  psychoanalytic   theory,   developing the  analysis  of  discourse  in a  mode  which  remains highly attenuated from  material  concerns.  Lacanian psychoanalysis feminists, led by Julia Kristeva (1980), have re-interpreted the mirror stage of development to emphasize  the abjection  of the female subject.  If the unspoken  male subject in Lacan’s formulation comes to  his identity  through engagement  with  the  mirror image of the self, for the female subject, this experience is violent and alienating.

Judith  Butler’s articulation of gender  as performance captures a number of elements of post-structuralist   theory   which  have  then   been  utilized   to examine identity formation in the past. Butler (1990) argues that gender is best understood as a performance in which the subject is constituted in relation  to the regulatory  practices  of society.  The  norms  of these practices are themselves culturally constructed around heterosexuality defined by masculine and feminine binaries.   Gender   is  actually   wholly   performative around those binaries such that it exists only in constituting a  particular identity.  While  some historians expressed concern with the postmodern tendency to deconstruct without  offering positive constructions,  notions   of  identity   as  performative have helped recuperate  historically  specific moments of identity formation. Understanding gender as a signifying practice helps reveal how it is integral to other expressions of identity in specific historical  settings.

3.    Politics Of Several Varieties

Going back to the ancient Greeks in the Western European tradition, politics has been a highly gendered  pursuit.  Politics  was  one  of  the  main  arenas  in which men achieved honor  and  glory in the ancient world, and despite the overlay of Christian  asceticism, politics  has  remained   that,   despite  the  attempt   to present political participation as a gender neutral  act on  behalf  of the  public  good.  Throughout much  of history,  men  of  appropriate class  standing  defined themselves  in  terms  of  their   eligibility  for  public political life. Even though politics is no longer formally restricted to male participants in Western Europe, old exclusivities die hard.

3.1    High Politics And Political Theory

The replacement  of monarchical systems of governance  with  more  or  less democratic  ones  in Western Europe   was  long  assumed  to  be  a  gender  neutral change for the better. The rights-bearing political subject was, however, always male until the twentieth century,  a fact noted  but  generally unquestioned by historians.  Recent  analysis  has revealed  that  gender difference  has  been  foundational to  conceptions   of politics  throughout the  Western  tradition (Pateman 1988).  Ancient  theorists,   particularly Aristotle,   described political participation as reliant on the qualities of mind and body of men. Female inferiority was based on mental and physical weakness which required the restriction  of women as much  as possible  to the home.  That  this  restriction   was  in  place  largely  to protect  paternity  and inheritance  dropped  out of the theoretical descriptions of society. Both Aristotle’s teleological analysis of politics and the persistence of anxiety about  paternity  and female sexuality enabled the political  arrangements to remain  almost  entirely male in expression.

The  gendered  logic beneath  the  political  was obscured  by  the  elaboration of  misogynous  overlays concerning  women,  beginning  especially in  the  late Middle  Ages with the emergence of the querelle des femmes. Except in France, where women were explicitly barred  from monarchical inheritance,  the occasional female monarchs only underscored the rule that men did politics and women did not. This was true in the Italian and Dutch republics as much as in monarchical states,  and  remained  generally  unquestioned until the French  Revolution.

The  positing   of  universal   citizenship   based   on inherent rights presented a philosophical and practical challenge  to  all-male  political  arrangements.  Even when other  notions  of hierarchy  and  difference were falling, however, gender remained. Joan Landes (1988) has argued that political participation as articulated in the French Revolution was foundationally masculinist rather than contingently or accidentally so. Not simply a matter  of women being overlooked,  revolutionaries made an active effort to differentiate  the ability to be public  and  political  based  on  sexual difference.  The assumption remained  that  sexual difference rendered women  incapable   of  proper   political  activity.  The increased  language   about   domesticity   and  women being properly  ‘private’ in the nineteenth  century was a result of the reassertion of politics as properly gendered male. Ironically, the ancient justification  for female exclusion from public affairs—concerns  about her chastity and female sexual voraciousness—was completely overwhelmed by the assumption of female sexual passivity. White middle-class women were increasingly  seen as asexual,  although this was constructed   against  assumptions that  women  of  other races and classes were sexually voracious  and threatening (Hammonds 1999).

As this recounting  of gender and politics has suggested, participation in high politics has long been organized and informed by notions of exclusion which are consistently  centered  on women  as problematic. The persistence of the gendering of politics in the twentieth century can be seen in the long fight that was necessary to secure female suffrage in most  Western European states and in the paucity  of women elected to high office and in positions of leadership in political parties.  The  awareness  that  this  persistence  is  not ‘natural’  but constructed has prompted some elected officials and feminists to challenge the overwhelmingly male character  of high politics, but the association  of women with domesticity  remains strong.

4.    The Politics Of The Personal

The gendering of high politics, of course, is dependent on the gendering  of domains  regarded  as outside  of politics. The personal  or the private  are just as much elements of the political as matters of electoral politics and state policy. This was an important lesson of the women’s movement, but the implications  of it remain controversial in many  areas.  The fractures  in social policy often  go in many  directions,  as a number  of areas related  to sexuality and  sexual expression  suggest. The relationship of work to family is just one of the  most  prominent places  in which  public  politics have become  highly contested  over what  used to be considered  private issues.

4.1    Social Policies For Work  And Family

Work and family have long been seen as quintessentially opposites: work is public while family is private.  But  work  and  family are no  longer  seen as naturally   occurring   or   organized   in  light   of  the historical analysis of gender. The language of ‘natural’ gender roles remains strong with respect to work and family, but the linking of the terms as historically inseparable has been combined with the imbrication of family and work issues in the welfare state. Even in the domain  of social policy, understandings of gender as historically  specific and  constituted in cultural  terms can inform policy development.

Gender history has focused on the cultural determination of work  and  family in Western  Europe. Examinations of tax  records  and  census  documents reveal that the gendering of work does not follow the expectation that men will do heavy work while women do the less physically demanding  jobs. In fact, work has long been assigned to men and women along culturally  determined  lines which were a function  of the household  as the unit of production for much of Western European history.  Efforts to understand the historical relationship between work and family led to the  emergence  of  two  important paradigms. First, historians  of women  posited  that  women  enjoyed  a relatively positive working experience—with greater opportunity and higher wages—before industrial capitalism. Some even referred  to early modern  women’s work  as a ‘golden age’ in Western  Europe.  Second, historians  argued  whether  continuity  in the  face of patriarchy or change in conjunction with larger historical  trends  best defined the history  of women’s work  (Sharpe  1995). The  controversy  has  produced efforts to historicize the workings of patriarchy so that the components of continuity  are understood for their flexibility. This has enhanced present-day understandings of the persistence of gendered workplaces,  occupational structures, and wage scales. At the same time, concerns about  seeing the history of women’s work as always the same produced  a critique that  emphasizes the  interactive  nature   of  gender  in  the  workplace. Men’s and women’s roles shift in relation to each other and  to  larger  economic  changes  such  as the  rise of industrial  capitalism.

The  gendering  of  occupations outside  the  home seems to follow shifts in competition between men and women  for  jobs.  The  chronology  and  geography  of these  shifts  remains  under  exploration, as  does  the direction  of change. Do changes in the family enable changes  in workplace  gender  configurations or does the  gendering  of  work  force  changes  in  the  family (Berg 1993)? The question remains an open one, but is relevant  to Western European controversies  over the welfare state and gender patterns  in employment.  The present trends toward  the separation of sex from marriage,  increased divorce rates compared  to earlier historical periods, child-rearing increasingly handled outside  the family, and adjustments in the gendering of labor, signal significant transformation in work and family  organization. The  male  breadwinner  model persists, but along with it is increased pressure on men to participate in the emotional life of the family. If men are to be more involved in the family, the recognition of women’s unemployment suggests that  women are no longer  automatically considered  to be wives and mothers  with paid employment  as a secondary  identity.

The  points   of  articulation  between   policy  and cultural  expressions are the subject of recent analysis. Diane Sainsbury  (1999) has argued that different and competing  models  of  the  welfare  state  are  actually both the result of gender and familial ideologies. The deficiencies in much welfare state analysis are a result of the failure to recognize gender as a crucial organizing framework  in policy. Language  and culture  once again are the loci in which gender and history provide the bases for analysis.

5.    Implications And Conclusions

Because gender is operative  in all times and places in which  human   beings  interact,   gender  and   history provide  the means and methodologies  to understand the developing  global  community.  Postmodern analytical techniques when applied to problems of gender in history  in Western  Europe  have produced  understandings of identity, politics, and sexuality in terms of their   interrelations.  Historical   practices   have   just begun to articulate  how specific experiences in different times and places relate to each other.  Given that human  communities  are always male and female, and thus always marked  by negotiations over expressions of masculinity  and  femininity,  over the meanings  of the body, and over the valuation  of work and family, gender and history encompass issues global in scale in which to situate local understandings and problems.

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