Gender in a Global Perspective
Gender relations are global. They are key to understanding how the world works today. War, globalisation, sexuality, migration, representation, employment, media, history - all of these are gendered. If you are interested in global power relations, a gender analysis is essential.
But what is GENDER? Gender can mean men and women, and the relationship between them. But it is also about masculinity and femininity, divisions of labour, self-presentation, public and private spheres, access to institutions and the organisation of family life. It can be understood as static or in flux, oppressive or a source of pleasure.
From our global perspective, gender always intersects with other categories of analysis such as race, ethnicity, class and sexuality. And because gender relations work in all spheres of life, interdisciplinarity is key to their analysis and transformation.
'Why Gender Matters for Social Science' video
'Why Gender Matters for Social Science' was originally designed for the LSE100 gender module taught by Clare Hemmings, Kim Hutchings and Sumi Madhok. The film comprises of a number of interviews with LSE academics discussing the importance of gender research for their discipline and talking about the range of work in this field being carried out at the school. The faculty had a lot of fun putting the film together – Darren and Glenn from CLT did amazing filming and editing work – and the Gender Institute has been really inspired by the amount of energy and enthusiasm people have shown for the project.
The Gender Institute was established in 1993 to address the major intellectual challenges posed by contemporary changes in gender relations. This remains a central aim of the Institute today, which is the largest research and teaching unit of its kind in Europe. The Gender Institute is interested in mapping and intervening in the gendered nature of social processes, and believes that an integrated interdisciplinary and global approach is needed to do so, making the Institute the only gender centre globally that combines theory and practice with such an interdisciplinary and transnational scope. We are a recognised centre of teaching innovation and excellence, with faculty having won a range of awards, and with many students coming to us through word of mouth.
The research work of the Gender Institute is critical, transnational, and interdisciplinary. Our research is variously positioned in relation to different fields of study within the social sciences and humanities, but in each case, the focus on gender means testing conventional disciplinary boundaries and developing alternative methodologies. All the work addresses, in some way, the tenacity of gender power relations and gendered inequalities in a period of global transformation. Our research falls under four broad strands, and we work both independently and collaboratively within these themes:
Bodies and sexualities: Research in this field includes analysis of the body as property, and body as commodity, and what, if anything, makes the body special. It also addresses the relationship between gender and sexuality, with an emphasis on local and transnational spaces and flows.
Gender and social policy: Using a gendered perspective, research in this theme documents social, economic and political change, and critically analyses individual, family, and policy responses, using both cross-national comparative methodologies and in-depth case studies.
Globalisation, development and inequalities: Research in this theme includes social and economic transformation in the global North and South, focusing on gendered relations, on rights, citizenship and social justice and resilience and change with respect to work, security, migration, poverty and the social reproduction of daily life.
Representation, narrative and culture: This theme brings together colleagues who work on gendered representations in film, literature and theory. This work addresses ageing and subjectivity, affect, classed dimensions of narrative, and the history of feminist theory.
The Institute runs five Masters programmes, attracting students from a wide range of different countries. In 2010/11 we have 80 Masters students and typically have 20 MPhil/PhD students researching gender concerns. The Institute serves as a focus for gender research across the LSE, and works to promote a close relationship between policy makers and the academy. Though the Institute only has a small core teaching staff, it provides a vibrant research culture with resident Research Fellows, visiting scholars, public lectures and conferences, and a regular programme of research seminars. We also co-host with the University of East London a monthly forum for Postgraduates in Narrative, Discourse and Representation.
The research work of the Institute is informed by the belief that all social processes are 'gendered', and that understanding gender relations is therefore a crucial component in any social science research. Some of the projects undertaken at the Institute focus directly on the position of girls and women, the contemporary character of gender relations, and the formation of sexual identities. Others employ a gendered perspective to address issues not normally considered as gender concerns. The focus of the research projects ranges across local, national and international contexts, and the relationship between gender and ethnicity has become an increasingly prominent concern.
The Gender Institute offices comprise a suite of rooms surrounding an open space where we have occasional seminars and receptions, a Masters' study space, a dedicated library, our own course collection of offprints and journals, and a kitchen. The PhD students have a connecting room with wireless access.