Harriet Bjerrum Nielsen: Gender as Analytic, Political and Interdisciplinary Concept
This article is written by Harriet Bjerrum Nielsen, professor at Centre for Gender Research. Published in Concepts in Action Conceptual Constructionism.
Photo: Concepts in Action
This is an introductory text to the concept of gender written to an edited book highlightening important sociological concepts in action. As an analytical, interdisciplinary and inherently critically concept, gender has multiple dimensions and raises intricate questions of ontology, epistemology and politics. The menaning of gender may also change depending on the academic field and the research questions raised. The dimensions discussed in this article include
- the non-reducible, analytic meaning of gender as a simultaneous distinction, distribution and discourse
- different conceptions of sex and gender and how they relate to assumptions about the mind-nature dichotomy
- the tension between gender equality and gender difference with wider impacts on epistemology and the conception of power and politics
- gender as something one is, does or performs, and the consequences of this notion for the understanding of subjectivity and agency, reproduction and change
Finally, the article discusses the issues of essentialism and constructionism and of nominalism and realism as different epistemological points of departure. If theoretical tensions are not reduced to a question of either/or, they can represent productive tensions for feminist scholars both to explore and to find ever-new ways to hold.